Horsemeat: Councils in Wales check school and hospital food

  • 15 February 2013
  • From the section Wales

Councils in Wales say they are taking steps to ensure horsemeat is not reaching schools, hospitals and homes.

Some say they have been testing certain foods while others are carrying out checks with their suppliers.

One firm supplying school meals in Anglesey has removed some beef from its menu as a precaution.

And bosses at a laboratory in Cardiff said it is working around the clock to test everything from burgers to lasagne and cottage pie for horsemeat.

Samples have been sent in from retailers, trading standards officials and the suppliers some councils use for their schools and care homes.

John Robinson, of Minton, Treharne & Davies Ltd, said samples started arriving early this week after the meeting involving the trade and officials from the Food Standards Agency (FSA) about getting products tested.

"The first started turning up Monday, Tuesday, and they have been escalating heavily towards latter part of week," said Mr Robinson, adding that there was a "pressure to get results".

Every council in Wales has told BBC Wales it is carrying out tests or inspections.

It can take up to four working days to test a single sample at a laboratory.

'No hesitation'

Deeside-based frozen food supermarket retailer, Iceland, said on Friday that all its own brand beef products have been found to be free from horsemeat.

David Lloyd, director of the Food Industry Centre at Cardiff Metropolitan University, warned that the financial impact of the scandal on the food industry could be significant .

"Those samples are going to cost the industry millions I'd suggest over the course of the next year and that asks the question where the responsibility for that cost lies," he said.

Earlier on Friday, Ogmore MP Huw Irranca-Davies, the shadow minister for food and farming, said food needs to be completely traceable across all countries.

He said consumers need to be sure of what they eat.

His comments came as the Farmers' Union of Wales (FUW) said it was appalled horsemeat was mislabelled as beef.

UK Environment Secretary Owen Paterson has stressed that "nothing seen so far presented a health risk" and that he would have "no hesitation at all" about eating recalled products.

The government has advised people to carry on with their normal shopping habits unless told otherwise.

Three men have been arrested on suspicion of Fraud Act offences.

Two, aged 64 and 42, were arrested at Farmbox Meats Ltd, of Llandre near Aberystwyth. One is believed to be the owner, Dafydd Raw-Rees.

A 63-year-old was arrested at the Peter Boddy Licensed Slaughterhouse in West Yorkshire. Both firms deny wrongdoing.

Test results for horse meat in British processed meals are due later on Friday as detectives continue to question the three arrested men.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) will report after asking retailers and suppliers for "meaningful results" from tests to detect the presence of horse meat in processed meals labelled as beef.

'Three people arrested'

The FSA suspended operations at the meat firm near Aberystwyth and the slaughterhouse in West Yorkshire after raids at the premises on Tuesday.

It also seized meat found on the premises as well as paperwork, including customer lists from the two companies.

Anglesey beef and sheep farmer Dafydd Roberts, of the FUW, said the activities were "out of the control of, and unrelated to, Welsh farmers".

"Producers of lamb, beef and other Welsh products have to abide by strict criteria and rigorous inspection regimes to ensure animal traceability," he said.

A Dyfed-Powys Police spokesman said the three people arrested were being detained at Aberystwyth Police Station and would be interviewed by its officers and FSA staff.

The Peter Boddy Licensed Slaughterhouse in West Yorkshire is reported to have supplied horse carcasses to the Aberystwyth plant, which were then allegedly sold on as beef for kebabs and burgers.

Tests by Irish authorities last month found horsemeat in beefburgers made by firms in the Irish Republic and the UK and sold in supermarket chains including Tesco and Aldi.

The Food Standards Agency has said that 29 tests on food products found more than 1% horsemeat.

Of 2,501 tests conducted, 2,472 have come back negative, the FSA says.

Tests by pubs owner Whitbread and school supplier Compass Group found horse DNA in some products, but other retailers say their tests are clear.

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