Wigan pupils may have eaten horsemeat

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COTTAGE pie delivered to schools in Lancashire - some of which serve Wigan children - has tested positive for horse DNA.

The product was delivered to 47 schools in the county, although council bosses have refused to reveal which have been affected.

This means schools including Up Holland High, All Saints Primary, Appley Bridge and Mossy Lea Primary may have been supplied with the contaminated products.

Lancashire County Council, which oversees all schools in West Lancashire, says its own laboratory has been carrying out DNA tests on samples collected by trading standards officers, and preliminary results show the presence of horse DNA in the school meals, which have been withdrawn.

The results were revealed at one of the county’s testing labs, used in the investigation by the Food Standards Agency.

Catering bosses at the council said: “The majority of beef and beef products served in school lunches are produced and delivered fresh from a local supplier.”

Coun Susie Charles, cabinet member for children and schools, said: “We share the concerns people have about what is clearly a major problem in food supplies across the UK and Europe.

“Because of those concerns we decided to seek extra assurance that our external suppliers were not providing any products containing horsemeat DNA, and one of the products has returned a positive result.

“Relatively few schools in Lancashire use this particular product but our priority is to provide absolute assurance that meals contain what the label says – having discovered this one doesn’t, we have no hesitation in removing it from menus.

“This does not appear to be a food safety issue but I’ve no doubt parents will agree we need to take a very firm line with suppliers and it is a credit to our officers that we have been able to quickly identify the problem and take the product off the menus.”

Last week Wigan Council’s main supplier of school meals, MetroFresh, confirmed that no traces had been found in any of their products sent to Wigan schools.