Fears horsemeat on city school menus for a year

Critics say supply chains now 'too big' for purpose. Picture: PA
Critics say supply chains now 'too big' for purpose. Picture: PA
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THERE are fears children at primary schools may have been eating horsemeat labelled beef for nearly a year, prompting revulsion and calls for an overhaul of food supplies.

The attacks came as catering giant Amey admitted that 3663 – a supply company found last month to have sent a batch of contaminated beef to six Edinburgh primary schools – was awarded its lucrative contract back in May 2012.

Critics said the revelation confirmed food supply chains had become “too big” and are calling for further clarification on what children may have been fed by the company.

Tina Woolnough, Edinburgh representative for the National Parent Forum for Scotland, said: “Something serious has got lost in people’s judgement over this. I suspect, in this case, it has all been about money.”

Amey – which in 2001 signed a Public Private Partnership deal with the city council to provide catering services to 11 primaries, five secondaries and one special school – has pledged to conduct a “full review” of services.

But Ms Woolnough said the fear horsemeat labelled as beef may have been served in schools since May last year showed companies had to go “even further than the law requires” to ensure food safety.

“At the end of the day, this is about money and trust,” she said. “Perhaps organisations are now too big and there’s not that immediacy of contact where you’d be able to feel when someone is pulling a fast one.”

Councillor Chas Booth, Green member for Leith, said Amey now had to clear up whether schools could have been receiving contaminated beef as long ago as last May.

He said: “This is a massive concern. The parents from the schools concerned have expressed some anxieties about what their children may or may not have been eating in the past.

“I will be asking the council to pursue this matter with Amey. Amey need to provide absolute clarity for the parents and everyone else.”

A spokeswoman for Amey said: “Horsemeat in beef products has become a widespread industry problem, and we are now working with the rest of the food industry to ensure that we improve the traceability of the food products we buy.”

Council education chiefs are furious they were not informed about the scandal earlier.

We revealed last week how Amey apologised to the council for not telling them about 3663’s positive test results on a batch of frozen beef.

It has made a £2000 donation to the Scottish NSPCC by way of recompense.