COUNCIL chiefs say they have not had to withdraw any foodstuffs from Borders school menus, thanks to a pledge by the local authority’s suppliers that none of the products it purchases are at risk of containing traces of horsemeat, writes Mark Entwistle.
The assurance from Scottish Borders Council came after traces of horse DNA were found in meat in a school kitchen in Lanarkshire – the first time it has been discovered in a Scottish school since the scandal erupted last month.
The equine DNA was found last week in a burger among the foodstuffs to be served to pupils as part of school dinners in North Lanarkshire.
All beef burger products were subsequently removed from the council’s school kitchens as a precaution.
However, a Scottish Borders Council spokesperson told TheSouthern this week: “We have not withdrawn any products from our school menus because the information received from our suppliers has confirmed we do not purchase any products which could be at risk.
“We continue to receive regular updates from Scotland Excel, the national procurement agency, and our suppliers, who have been carrying out rigorous checks.”
And he added that items such as burgers and lasagne, which are served as part of school dinners, are freshly made and SBC does not use processed or frozen-ready meals.
“The meat for making these types of food comes from Campbell’s Prime Meat,” he said.
Councillor Michael Cook, the local authority’s executive member with responsibility for procurement, told TheSouthern that the key message is an ongoing need to monitor the situation.
“With that in mind, the council is in constant contact with the national procurement agency, Scotland Excel, and our suppliers,” said Mr Cook this week. “The council is satisfied with the steps they are taking to ensure products are not at risk.”
Scottish Government ministers are now inviting local councils to a summit, in an attempt to ensure as much locally-sourced food as possible is served to youngsters.
Scottish Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead said the controversy had “absolutely underlined that there is no substitute for quality”.