Following the recent headlines about food products containing horse meat, Warwickshire County Caterers are assuring parents, guardians and school pupils about the meat used in their primary and special school menus.
County Caterers provide school meals to 178 schools in Warwickshire and have in place practices to safeguard standards and ensure traceability on all their school food suppliers.
They have also sought reassurances from their suppliers Lower Hurst Organic Farm in Derbyshire, who supply County Caters’ minced beef, and The UK Foodhall Ltd in Shrewsbury, who supply other beef products, namely sliced Scottish beef and British meatballs.
Nicky Stonebridge of Lower Hurst Organic Farm said: “All of Lower Hurst’s beef products are fully certified as organic.
This certification confirms the UK origin of all the beef we use, the farm of origin, the organic status of the individual livestock and the production process here at Lower Hurst Farm. There is no more traceable produce in the UK than certified organic produce.”
Karen McQuade from The UK Foodhall Ltd said: “All of our beef is British Red Tractor, so our supply chain for provenance is assured. However, a food industry scare like this needs everyone to be extra vigilant, so to that aim, we have had all of our beef products DNA tested by a third party laboratory and our beef products only tested positive for beef, no other animal DNA was found in our beef products.”
Sandra Rusell, Head of Catering at County Caterers, said: “We hope that these reassurances from our suppliers also provide reassurance to parents, guardians and pupils whose school meals are supplied by County Caterers. We are still serving beef in our schools based upon the controlled purchase chain from these suppliers.
“We would urge parents and guardians not to panic or seek to remove children from the school meals service and want them to retain confidence in school meal safety.
“We buy food to a very high standard and have put quality measures in place to make sure that the food suppliers we use conform to all food safety standards, nutritional standards, hygiene regulations and follow all food standards set by Government bodies, such as the Food Standards Agency.”
School food in local authority schools must comply to strict standards. These standards mean that the meal served as part of a school lunch is nutritionally balanced and, that wherever possible, the meal is freshly cooked on the school site using fresh produce. The standards restrict
processed foods, which often contain a lot of fat, salt and sugar from going onto school menus.
Sandra Russell concluded: “We are in contact with our suppliers to ensure the continuing safety of the products used in our school meals. Parents who are worried about school meals should rest assured that County Caters are committed to the highest standards in school food and nutrition.”