University Hospital of North Staffordshire catering provider says there is no horse in meals
BEEF will not be removed from meals served at the city's main hospital in the wake of the horse meat scandal.
Catering giant Sodexo has withdrawn the meat from food served in schools, care homes and armed forces.
The move came after a frozen food product tested positive for traces of horse meat.
But after launching an investigation, the organisation issued an all-clear on meat products supplied by its Tillery Valley Foods business, which supplies hospital meals.
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Tillery, based in south Wales, provides food to the University Hospital of North Staffordshire.
It also provides meals served in community hospitals in Burslem, Longton, Leek and Bradwell and at Combined Healthcare, which runs the Harplands psychiatric complex in Hartshill.
The reassurance comes the week after Staffordshire County Council took beef off menus at schools and local authority-run care homes because of the crisis.
The county council has stressed the move was just a precautionary measure and there was no evidence of any contamination in its processed beef meals, such as cottage pie and lasagne.
A spokesman for Sodexo, which provides services at 2,300 locations, said: "We had demanded written assurances from across our supply chain that the products we purchase did not contain horse meat and additionally implemented an internal sampling programme.
"Despite repeated guarantees from our suppliers, our sampling has identified a frozen beef product which tested positive for equine DNA.
"This situation is totally unacceptable.
"We felt the only appropriate response was to withdraw not only this product, but all frozen beef products.
"We will only re-admit into our catering operations products that have affirmatively passed DNA testing, pursuant to laboratory test criteria.
"Our Tillery Valley Foods business, which supplies meals to the healthcare sector, is not affected."
The latest tests by the Food Standards Agency shows that out of 1,133 meat products checked, only six – including Sodexo's – were positive for horse.
They included Asda's chilled beef bolognese sauce, Sodexo's beef burgers, minced beef and halal minced beef, and a Whitbread Group lasagne and beef burger.
Combined Healthcare chief executive Fiona Myers said: "We have been assured by Tillery Valley Foods that it purchases whole beef joints which are minced on-site by their trained butchers.
"These joints are traceable to the abattoir and cutting plant.
"In order to provide customers with a level of additional reassurance, it has also demanded that all meat suppliers provide evidence of DNA testing of beef products prior to delivery to the site."