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Horse meat scandal: Croydon hospital meals 'not contaminated'

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MEALS served in Croydon University Hospital are not contaminated with horse meat, a spokesman has said. Environment Secretary Owen Paterson told the House of Commons yesterday that 'immediate' testing would be done on food served in schools, hospitals and prisons. apetito, which supplies the borough's Meals on Wheels service, said steps had been taken to ensure products had not been affected. A Croydon Council spokesman said anyone concerned about meals offered in schools should visit the Food Standards Agency website for advice, but declined to comment further. Croydon Health Services NHS Trust, which runs Croydon University Hospital, said suppliers had provided laboratory analysis proving meals had not been contaminated. "I personally take the quality of the food that we provide to the patients, staff and visitors very seriously," said Peter Downes, the catering manager. "None of the companies that supply our beef products are those who have been listed as the companies that have had their products contaminated by horse meat; all of our suppliers are nominated under the NHS procurement framework which incorporates rigorous food safety guidelines. "Even so, I have spoken to each of them individually to ensure that the food that we serve is free of horse meat. "They have provided me with assurances, including laboratory analysis of their products, that we are not serving food which has been subject to this contamination." Croydon Council's Meals on Wheels service is provided by apetito, which issued a statement to reassure consumers. "On January 29, when the issue [of horse meat contamination] first emerged, we commissioned DNA tests on 100% of beef raw materials and finished products for that day," a spokesman said. "These tests were carried out by an independent accredited laboratory. All of these tests results have been 100% clear. "As a result we have no evidence whatsoever that apetito is implicated in the incident." The company said it did not use Comigel, the manufacturer which was implicated in the Findus lasagne incident, and had never 'traded, purchased or produced equine products'. All beef suppliers have been audited, including a traceability test, and the company conducts more than 700 microbiological and chemical tests per month, the statement added. apetito said ongoing DNA testing of raw materials had been put in place, and checks had also been conducted into producers of Halal and Kosher meals. The full statement is online here. Croydon Council was asked what steps Trading Standards has taken. A spokesman said anyone who has contaminated products should return them to the store they bought them from. "The government's Food Standards Agency is leading on this matter, and it's the responsibility of food companies to ensure that the contents of packaged food are exactly as described on the labelling," the spokesman said. "People should feel assured that the major food companies are acting responsibly in this matter and are removing products from the shelves as they find they have been contaminated. "If any residents have samples of the products that have been found to be contaminated with horse meat, they should take them back to the store from which they bought them." The horse meat scandal began on January 16, when the Food Safety Authority of Ireland announced traces of equine DNA had been found in burgers supplied to stores including Tesco, Lidl, Aldi and Iceland by Silvercrest Foods and Dalepak Hambleton. An estimated ten million burgers were taken off the shelves, with Sainsbury's, Asda and the Co-op also withdrawing some products as a precaution and Burger King switching suppliers. The Irish authorities blamed the contamination on 'filler product' in the burgers, which they said came from Poland. It then emerged Burger King's products had been contaminated with 'very small trace levels' of horsemeat. Production at Rangeland Foods in Ireland was suspended after 75% equine DNA was found in raw materials, and tests then showed frozen meat at Freeza Meats in Northern Ireland was 80% equine. Findus beef lasagnes made by French supplier Comigel were withdrawn from sale after they were found to be up to 100% horsemeat, while Tesco admitted some of its value spaghetti bolognese, also made by Comigel, contained up to 60% horse.

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