All beef will be off a borough’s school dinners and meals-on-wheels menus until at least the end of April, health bosses have revealed.
It comes after traces of horse DNA were found in beef supplied by Sandwell Council’s supplier, Newport-based Welsh Bros Food Ltd.
All beef was taken off the school menus and meals-on-wheels service across Sandwell last Thursday after the company contacted the authority to say one batch of frozen free flow minced beef – dated from December – had “potentially tested positive for above one per cent horse meat”.
And at a meeting yesterday between Sandwell Council and bosses of the meat company, it emerged fresh tests are being carried out as a precaution. Until the results are known, the council will not introduce beef back to the menu.
Sandwell called the meeting after it was revealed last week that one batch of minced beef supplied by the firm had proved positive for traces of horse meat. It is still not known whether the batch ever reached Sandwell and all previous tests had been negative until news broke last week.
Borough health boss, Councillor Paul Moore, said: “Until I am totally satisfied the beef products we have in Sandwell are totally free of horse meat then I have decided they are removed from all menus.
“It is likely to take around six to eight weeks for all the test results to be received. We are also discussing with the company how they can take further steps, in conjunction with a number of other local authorities, to avoid this happening again.
“It is only a precaution, but the people of Sandwell need to feel confident that when they are eating beef it is exactly just that.”
Welsh Bros Food Ltd told the council it has issued a ‘withdraw notice’ with the Food Standards Agency for all frozen free flow minced beef produced between December 13, 2012 and January 17, 2013.
Sandwell Council supplies 11,000 school meals a day to 86 primary and secondary schools. There are around 120 schools in the borough, however some schools, such as academies, have their own arrangements for meals. It also provides meals on wheels to around 90 residents.