Pie firm in ‘no horse’ pledge

MD of Pooles Pies Neil Court-Johnson
MD of Pooles Pies Neil Court-Johnson
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THE chief of Wigan’s oldest pie company has assured customers that its products are horse-free following the scandal involving contamination of ready meals and burgers.

Neil Court-Johnston, managing director of Poole’s Pies, has opened its doors to the media, showing the Pemberton-based firm uses good quality British beef in its produce.

He said: “I wanted to invite the media to show everyone how we make our pies.

“The question is, ‘how can people in Wigan be 100 per cent confident we don’t have horse meat in our pies?’ and the answer is that we have a long-standing relationship of more than 20 years with British farmers.

“We have specific specifications of what we buy and when it arrives it is inspected and tested.

“We only buy local prime cuts of meat - muscles from livestock, so it is not diced or minced.

“We have our own butchery department, with two trusted butchers, who cut and dice the meat on site.

“Our cooking process is very simple - we don’t have lots of stages or ingredients so we can verify our products.

“There is a distinction between Poole’s Pies and the ready meals which have had traces of horsemeat.

“The ready meals are pre-minced, therefore it is much more challenging to trace the meat.

“Meat can contain a number of different sources. If we are not dealing with an animal with a prime cut, it could have been interfered with and could have come from a different country.

“Another thing is that visually, before tests, horsemeat is purple and meat from a cow is red, so it is clear when it has been contaminated.

“At Poole’s it is all about ensuring we have the right people, with the correct quality processes.”

Mr Court-Johnston added that the firm had recently been featured on BBC’s Food Inspectors, presented by Chris Hollins, as a site to illustrate good practice in food production.

Poole’s was established in 1847 as a local craft bakery, which ultimately became a household name in the North West.

Dave Whelan bought the company in the late 1980s and Poole’s has won the Premier League Best Pie Award over three consecutive years.