'No horsemeat in school meals'
PARENTS have been assured that meals delivered to schools are not contaminated in light of the horse meat scandal.
Local authorities and suppliers have moved to allay concerns that food distributed to places such as schools and care homes has been affected.
Meanwhile, butchers say they have noticed an increase in trade as shoppers view processed meat products with increased suspicion.
Products have been removed from shelves in various supermarkets where dishes were found to contain horsemeat. Investigations have also revealed that products by Findus had been contaminated.
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Now Staffordshire County Council – which supplies to just over 85 per cent of the county's schools – has confirmed the services it supplies have been unaffected by the problems.
Mark Winnington, cabinet member for environment and assets, said: "People should have absolute confidence in what they are eating. As soon as we saw stories about contaminated meat, we contacted our suppliers to ensure that the county council's catering services were not affected."
"We have had assurances from all of our suppliers that neither they, nor their own suppliers buy beef products from those companies implicated in recent reports. However, we will continue to seek a cast iron guarantee on the quality and origin of the food we buy."
Councillor Winnington says the authority has a policy of sourcing meat and other products from within the county.
He added: "We know exactly where our meat comes from and in the process, we support the local economy. In the meantime, our contracts with food suppliers continue to demand that they have comprehensive systems in place to show where all of their products come from."
Suppliers to Cheshire East Council have also been quick to confirm their meat is unaffected.
In a letter to the authority, Tony Bird, managing director of Sandbach-based Brooks Butchers, said: "Any meat or manufactured products such as burgers and sausages will not and do not have any horsemeat in them. We serve the general public, pubs, hotels, restaurants and more than 70 schools in and around the surrounding areas in which some of the children of my staff go to – so it is in our interest to give them the best."
Mick Owen, of Biddulph, has run Owen's Family Butchers in the town with wife Christine for just over five years.
The 48-year-old says the horsemeat scandal has resulted in more customers heading to his business.
He said: "There has been a slow but steady growth. For us there is traceability with where the meat comes from, we can find everything out about the animal."
Stoke-on-Trent City Council and Cheshire East Council were unavailable for comment.