Halal lamb burgers have been withdrawn from a city’s schools after tests revealed a sample contained pork. The decision follows DNA tests on a batch of frozen burgers manufactured by Doncaster-based Paragon Quality Foods Limited in January, Leicester Council said today. Assistant city mayor Vi Dempster said: “I am appalled by this situation. It is disgraceful that none of us can have confidence in the food we eat.
All other Halal products used in the council’s kitchens – including 24 city schools – are supplied by another company, the council said and that 19 schools were supplied with the frozen burgers.
The council has written to 6,000 families whose children might have eaten the burgers.
Suleman Nagdi, from the Federation of Muslim Organisations (FMO), said: “The community will be extremely shocked and distressed to learn of the contamination that has taken place. The FMO is working closely with the local authority and calling on them to take legal action in respect of this contamination and would urge the local authority to instigate criminal proceedings against the company involved under the Food Safety Act.”
In a statement issued today, Paragon Quality Foods said it had “never knowingly bought or handled pork” and it was working with the relevant authorities. “Paragon Quality Foods Ltd is a pork-free site and has never knowingly bought or handled pork and has provided this information to the relevant enforcement authorities.
The decision to remove halal lamb burgers from Leicester schools comes after a number of high-profile meat scandals this year. In February, the Ministry of Justice said it was to suspend a firm supplying meat to prisons after tests found that it may have provided halal pies and pasties with traces of pork DNA. Then there was the horse meat scandal in January where investigations revealed beef products sold by retailers including lasagne, spaghetti Bolognese and frozen burgers supplied to several supermarkets including Tesco contained were contaminated with horse DNA.