“No horsemeat in Barking and Dagenham school meals”

Barking and Dagenham Council insists its schools are horsemeat free zones.

Barking and Dagenham Council insists its schools are horsemeat free zones. - Credit: Archant

The catering companies supplying schools in Barking and Dagenham have assured the food has not been contaminated with horsemeat.

Barking and Dagenham Council employs two catering contractors, Brakes and Thomas Ridley, which have confirmed all meat products have been checked.

Brakes said it had finished the first round of testing and no horse DNA was found in the products supplied to schools in the borough.

A spokesman for Brakes said: “Our submission to the Food Standards Agency (FSA) has so far included 240 negative results for equine DNA. Our testing programme has been comprehensive, going beyond the FSA recommendations of testing processed comminuted beef products.”

However tests on products supplied elsewhere by Brakes have confirmed the presence of equine DNA in a spicy minced beef skewer, in a frozen beef burger and in a beef lasagne, which have now been recalled.

At Thomas Ridley, a spokeswoman said tests by all 22 of their suppliers had come back negative for equine DNA and no products had been recalled.

The caterers supplying Queen’s Hospital in Romford also allayed fears.

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A spokesman for healthcare catering company Tillery Valley said: “Our current nominated meat suppliers have confirmed that they have not supplied us with products or ingredients that have been sourced from any of the meat suppliers cited by the Food Standards Agency and that their meat products do not contain species other than that declared on the label.”