Newham Council insists all school beef is British and “high standard”

Newham Council insist they only use British beef and have stringent measures in place to test meat supplied to schools in the borough.

The continuing fallout from the horsemeat scandal, when such meat was found in products supposedly containing beef, has prompted the local authority to reassure parents that food being served to school children is safe.

Newham Council said only one per cent of all meat supplied to schools is beef, while lamb is the preferred choice to serve to students for school meals.

A Newham Council spokesman said: “Newham has no concerns with regard to meat products in schools and parents should be reassured. All of the beef comes from the UK and meets the highest standards of animal welfare and traceability.”

They added: “The frozen food manufacturer and butcher who supply all of our meat products have both been given a clean bill of health.”

When the Recorder asked the council to outline the type of methods used to test meat supplied to schools in the borough, they declined to comment further.

Britain’s Food Standards Agency (FSA) said an industry-wide testing programme was now in place, but that is up to the brand, not the supplier to ensure their product meets UK safety regulations.

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An FSA spokesman said: “We are reminding public bodies of their responsibility for their own food contracts.”

However, England’s academies, which were recently criticised by celebrity chef, Jamie Oliver, for serving unhealthy meals, are semi-independent schools and as such they do not have to abide by regulations which set out strict nutritional guidelines for school food.

The regulator has now requested local authorities carry out additional tests on products supplied in local authority schools after horsemeat being found in a number of frozen food items at leading supermarkets in the UK, Republic of Ireland and France.

They added that local authorities are responsible for sampling products provided by public institutions, such as schools, prisons, hospitals and the Armed Forces, but council tests do not “necessarily look for horsemeat.”