Horsemeat found in food served in Swansea schools and care homes
HORSEMEAT has been found in food served up to Swansea children in council run schools and to old and vulnerable people in local authority care homes.
Swansea Council has confirmed it has removed minced beef from its menus after tests showed the presence of horsemeat.
Carmarthenshire Council and Neath Port Talbot Council have also removed the meat following tests.
Swansea Council said it was part of a consortium of 10 councils that had their minced beef supplied by an accredited company, Welsh Bros.
It said the tests were undertaken independently by the council.
"Further tests are being carried out, but the council has taken immediate action to withdraw minced beef from all of its menus," said a spokesman for Swansea Council.
Tests also showed traces of pork in beef Halal sausages, although this product was discontinued by a separate supplier several months ago according to the council.
Martin Saville, the council's head of public protection, said: "We maintain the highest standards of food testing and safety.
"Following the latest testing and results we have taken immediate action to withdraw minced beef from all our menus as a precautionary measure. This product will not be served.
"Our testing regime and the action we have taken should help to reassure the public that we will do everything we can to ensure our food is safe and uncontaminated."
A spokesman for Carmarthenshire Council added: "Welsh Bros has just confirmed that Carmarthenshire was among those supplied with the affected batch of minced meat, which was produced between December 13 and January 17.
"As a result, minced beef meals are being taken off the menus for schools and social care establishments while enquiries continue.
"Minced meat supplied by Welsh Bros after January 17 has been tested and found to be unaffected."
A Neath Port Talbot Council spokesperson said: "Neath Port Talbot is one of 16 local authorities that is part of the Welsh Purchasing Consortium (WPC). The WPC have established a protocol to update suthorities and disseminate information regarding the horsemeat situation.
"Neath Port Talbot Council is monitoring the situation and is in close communication with all lead contracting authorities in the WPC and all of our relevant suppliers.
"We have sent a number of meat products for independent testing by trading standards. Until further results are clear, the potentially affected products such as minced beef and beef burgers have been removed immediately from all menus."
The issue of horsemeat in food first came to light when certain products were recalled from some supermarkets.
Steve Thomas CBE, Welsh Local Government Association Chief Executive said: “Meat products supplied to local authorities by suppliers who have identified equine DNA in some of their meat products have been recalled.
“The fact that this contamination has been identified is testimony to the rigorous checks and tests that local government is conducting and demanding of its complex supply chain.”
“The Food Standards Agency (FSA) is also overseeing a coordinated and vigorous response to this problem, and carrying out a large scale survey through local authorities to provide information about the possible presence of horse or pig DNA in a range of beef products available in the UK.
“The FSA will publish the results from the study and detail any formal action taken. The current priority for individual local authorities is to focus on those manufacturers that have been supplied by businesses implicated as potential sources of contamination.
“The FSA has recently issued advice to the public that there is no reason or evidence to suspect that there is a food safety risk from these products, and what must be emphasised at this stage is that this remains a matter of food fraud, not food safety.
“The responsibility for ensuring the quality of food produced or sold lies firmly with food businesses. Under the law, food operators are required to ensure that unsafe food is not placed on the market, that food is accurately described and labelled and that other businesses and consumers are not misled.
“Investigations continue to be ongoing, and local councils will continue to work closely with the FSA and their supply chain, to ensure the food supplied to local government meets required standards.”
Tonight Cardiff, Pembrokeshire and Bridgend councils also confirmed taking meat off their menus as a precaution.
However, not all councils in the agreement had purchased meat from Welsh Bros.
In a statement, Welsh Bros said: "The batch affected was produced nearly three months ago. Welsh Bros Foods did have a clear test result for frozen free flow minced beef on 17.01.13.
"We submitted these samples when the horse meat scandal first broke in January. We have since submitted further samples which we are still awaiting test results for.
"Welsh Bros has been provided with test results from other authorities who have tested more recent batches of our free flow minced beef and these have been reported as being clear. We therefore believe at this stage that this is an isolated incident.
"We have today (Wednesday) issued a withdraw notice with the Food Standards Agency for frozen free flow minced beef produced between 13.12.12, which was the pack date of the suspect test, and 17.01.13, which is the date we achieved our clear test result."
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