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Burgers off the menu in Brighton schools
Burgers have been withdrawn from school dinner menus as a precaution as the scandal of horsemeat in the food chain intensifies.
Brighton and Hove City Council insists there is no evidence that beef products given to children have been contaminated but it has dropped Red Tractor burgers until it gets guaran- tees from suppliers.
It emerged on Friday that horse DNA has been discovered in lasagnes and beef burgers by the suppliers of food to hotels and pub restaurants across Sussex.
Council officers across the county are in daily contact with school meals contractors as the extent of horsemeat contamination in processed foods becomes clear.
Red Tractor beefburgers were due to be served to children at city schools on Tuesday, February 26.
Instead, their baps will be filled with either pork sausage or chicken.
The council said all the other beef products used by the city’s school meals contractor Eden Foodservices come from a single slaughterhouse in Shrewsbury, which does not use any foodstuffs from outside.
A spokesman said yesterday: “The current concerns about horsemeat are a very serious matter, but we are extremely confident that no contamination has occurred in any of the beef products in our school meals.
“Our school meals contractor Eden Foodservices has very robust due diligence processes in place that give excellent quality and safety assurance.
"We are completely satisfied that Eden has taken every step to ensure the integrity of the food chain for our school meals.
“One burger product has been withdrawn from our menus pending satisfactory guaran- tees from suppliers.
"This is simply a precautionary measure. There is no evidence of a problem.”
Staff at the Premier Inn in North Street, Brighton, refused to comment yesterday when The Argus called to ask if guests had been affected by the discovery of horse DNA in lasagnes and beefburgers.
The hotel chain is owned by Whitbread, which apologised to customers yesterday after contamination was detected in the food it supplies to its chains.
The burgers and lasagnes have been withdrawn from menus while more testing is carried out.
The food was also supplied to Whitbread’s Beefeater chain, which has restaurants in
Burgess Hill, Horsham and Arundel, its Brewer’s Fayre pub group, which has bars in Hastings and Newhaven, and its Table Table chain, which has restaurants in Littlehampton and Eastbourne.
Whitbread said in a statement said: “We are shocked and disappointed at this failure of the processed meat supply chain.
"As an industry it is clear we need the supply chain to deliver products to the highest standards of food integrity and quality that we and our customers expect.”
East Sussex County Council said its school meals supplier Chartwells and its meals on wheels contractor Apetito have tested their beef and say they are unaffected by the horsemeat scandal.
A spokesman said: “We work in partnership with both companies and carefully check the traceability and provenance of the ingredients used to produce meals for our residents.
"The council will continue to monitor this situation.”
But he said the council could not speak for the county’s academies, which manage their own catering.
West Sussex County Council said its suppliers are checking for any risk of horsemeat being served.
A spokesman said: “We are in daily contact with our contractors and suppliers who are carrying out the appropriate tests and are satisfied they are taking all reasonable steps.
“It’s our suppliers and contractors who are doing the testing and we are in daily contact with them.”