Horsemeat supplied to six Edinburgh schools

Frozen mince supplied to six Scottish schools has been found to contain horsemeat, a council has confirmed.

• Contaminated meat product found at Edinburgh primary school

• Meat found at Pirniehall and St David’s Primary Schools contained 5 per cent horsemeat

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Edinburgh city council has carried out tests on 85 meat samples taken from its catering premises since 14 February and one tested positive for the presence of horsemeat.

Results showed that a sample of frozen beef mince containing between 1 per cent and 5 per cent horsemeat was taken from the shared kitchen of Pirniehall and St David’s primary schools.

Council investigations revealed mince from the same batch was also supplied to Oxgangs Primary, Craig­royston Primary, Braidburn Special School and Forthview Primary.

The council said it was not known whether the mince was served to pupils before the product was recalled by the distributor, 3663.

Catering supplies at the schools are procured by a contractor, who, in turn, sourced frozen mince from 3663. On 8 March, the firm recalled all batches of this frozen mince-beef product after one batch tested positive for horsemeat.

A letter has been sent to parents of pupils at each of the six schools, advising them of the test results.

Cathy Fullerton, the council’s vice-convener of education, said: “It’s very important to emphasise that there is no risk whatsoever to people’s health from consuming horsemeat, but obviously we all want to be certain that we know exactly what we are eating.

“This is why the council chose to seek extra assurance that our external suppliers were not providing any products containing horsemeat by carrying out our own testing.

“Parents can be reassured that we have taken absolutely the correct course of action in immediately making sure there is none of this frozen mince remaining in school kitchens.

“We have written to all parents in the six schools to let them know about this and will be happy to discuss any further queries they may have.”

Tests are also being carried out on processed meat products supplied to residential homes and other local authority establishments, under the direction of the Food Standards Agency. Alison Johnstone, food spokeswoman for the Scottish Greens, said: “This latest revelation will be a great worry for parents and it proves we need greater investment and increased traceability in our publicly procured meals.

“I have real concerns about the way our schools have moved away from real meals cooked in proper kitchens to ready meals heated up in microwaves.

“I have highlighted the Soil Association’s Food for Life programme, which currently ensures one in ten schools in Scotland has confidence about where its food comes from. I again urge ministers to increase their support for the scheme and encourage local authorities to adopt it.”

Claire Baker, Labour’s rural affairs and environment spokeswoman, said: “This confirmation is a reminder that the problem has not gone away.

“The SNP held a hastily convened summit on school meals a few weeks ago and yet there still has been no action.

“The Scottish Government must take action to ensure school meals are balanced in a fairer way than the current weighting that sees price valued three times more than quality.

“The cabinet secretary [Richard Lochhead] is presiding over a growing food crisis that he is failing to control.”