A mother found shards of potentially deadly metal in a ready meal she was feeding her toddlers.

Distraught mother of three Sue Hallam, from Southwick, found a chunk of metal in yesterday’s lunch which she was sharing with her 22- month-old twins Paige and Aimee.

Mrs Hallam, 34, had bought the Tesco Classic braised beef and mash at the company’s Holmbush store in Shoreham only minutes before.

She said: “I was sharing it with my twin girls and had put some in both of their bowls and the rest in mine.

“I felt this really hard bit in my mouth and pulled out a lump of metal. I wondered what on earth it could be.

“The first thing I did was to take it away from my two girls. I didn’t know if they’d eaten any of it or not and didn’t want to risk them putting shards of metal in their mouths.”

Still concerned her daughters may have ingested metal filings before she took their food away, Mrs Hallam, who works for Barclays Bank, inspected the object and found that one edge of the 1cm chunk was serrated and could have left deposits in the meal.

She added: “I though it was a bullet at first.

“I didn’t know what to think. My first thought was for my girls. It’s still worrying because I don’t know if there were any filings in what the twins have already eaten.

“I’m usually calm but I really panicked because I didn’t know whether there was any more. I was really upset.

If they’d swallowed anything they could have choked.”

Mrs Hallam, a Tesco shopper for the past 14 years, said she would think twice about buying from the store in the future. As soon as she saw the object she phoned the store and the Tesco head office, who told her the product would be withdrawn from the shelves with immediate effect.

A spokesman for Tesco said: “We are very sorry for any distress caused and will be investigating this issue.

“We have strict procedures in place to ensure the quality and safety of our food and would like to stress that this type of incident is incredibly rare.”