MARTHA Payne, the ten-year-old who spoke out about poor nutrition in school meals, has added her voice to the horsemeat scandal, following the discovery of horsemeat at a school in North Lanarkshire.
“Everyone is talking about horsemeat being found in school food in Scotland,” Payne wrote in her blog, NeverSeconds.
“I think it’s terrible that horsemeat is in schools with no one knowing about it. We don’t know where the horses came from and how they were looked after. We should change what we eat if we don’t know what it is or where it comes from.”
Her comments came as Scottish chef Nick Nairn said he was demanding an independent review of what Scottish children are fed in schools.
“Based on Martha Payne’s school lunch blog, we knew the meals weren’t great but, even in our worst nightmares, we didn’t imagine horsemeat was on the menu in Scottish schools,” said Nairn.
“I’m demanding an urgent, independent review to get to the bottom of school meals in Scotland.”
He added: “We need to get to understand who is making the decisions and where the money is going and we need to fundamentally change things to make sure this never happens again”.
Nairn made the demand through the Menteith group, a campaign set up last summer to improve food provision and education in Scottish schools.
Traces of horse DNA were found in a frozen burger in a school in North Lanarkshire last week. The Scottish Government’s procurement agency has now withdrawn all frozen burgers from schools.
“Enough is enough. This scandal shows we have no idea what they are feeding our kids,” said Nairn.
“For the past year we’ve been talking to the Scottish Government about improving food in schools and we’ve received assurances which turn out to be worthless.”
It was also revealed this weekend that Sodexo, Britain’s biggest catering company, had found horsemeat in minced beef products. The company supplies hundreds of schools, care homes, military bases, prisons, office canteens and sporting venues across the country.
The French-owned firm also has a contract to produce meals for the military at Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle and the Tower of London, and also supplies Royal Ascot.
All minced beef, which would have been used to make cottage pies, Italian dishes and other products, plus frozen burgers, is being withdrawn.
Halal minced beef is also being recalled. Sodexo’s beef products are served at the Open golf championship, Newcastle United football ground and Hampden Park in Glasgow, home of the Scottish national football team. The details were revealed by the Food Standards Agency.
Payne shot to fame with her blog NeverSeconds, in which she documented her daily school meals. Argyll & Bute, her local authority, attempted to ban the blog, to much criticism, and eventually backed down. She has also written a book with the help of her father David about her experiences, and has raised more than £125,000 for the Malawi charity Mary’s Meals.