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Beefburgers supplied to North-East councils being tested for horsemeat
BEEFBURGERS bought by North-East local authorities and potentially served in care homes and council canteens are undergoing tests amid fears they contain horsemeat.
The burgers were bought from food catering wholesaler Hopwells and were manufactured by Paragon Quality Foods, based in Doncaster.
Three ranges of burgers have been suspended by the suppliers, including a line of halal burgers.
The action has been taken after burgers manufactured by Paragon and supplied to pub chain Whitbread were found to contain horse DNA.
Hopwells is contracted to supply frozen meat products to 12 North-East local authorities through the North East Procurement Organisation (NEPO).
NEPO confirmed last night (Friday, February 22) that 14 cases of the suspect burgers had been ordered since the beginning of 2012.
However, NEPO said the burgers had been purchased by the councils on an “ad hoc basis” directly from Hopwells and were not part of its contracted range regularly supplied to local authorities.
Steven Sinclair, NEPO senior regional category specialist, said it was not possible to say who had ordered the burgers and for what purpose, but he stressed that they had not been supplied for use in schools.
Mr Sinclair suggested possible uses could be in council-run care homes and in council staff canteens.
He added: “There is a possibility that they could have been contaminated so they’ve taken precautions and are carrying out tests, as well as liaising with environmental health and the FSA.”
Mr Sinclair said local authorities had been advised of the testing.
Meanwhile, Sodexo, which supplies food to schools, care homes and the armed forces, including soldiers based at Catterick Garrison, in North Yorkshire, has withdrawn beef from its UK sites after a frozen product tested positive for horse DNA.
Sodexo said the situation was totally unacceptable and the products were being recalled with immediate effect.
Birds Eye announced that it was also withdrawing three beef ready meals from sale in the UK and Ireland. The move follows tests that found two per cent of horse DNA in a chilli con carne dish sold by Birds Eye in Belgium.
Birds Eyes spaghetti bolognese, shepherds pie and lasagne are made by the same Belgian manufacturer, Frigilunch N.V., and are being withdrawn as a precautionary measure.
The Food Standards Agency released the latest tranche of test results submitted by the food industry yesterday. They showed that out of 1,133 meat products checked, only six - including Sodexos - were positive for horse.
In the second wave of tests, the products linked to samples showing horse DNA were the Paragon beefburgers, Asda’s chilled beef bolognese sauce, Sodexo’s beef burgers, minced beef and halal minced beef, and a lasagne supplied to Whitbread Group.
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