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Halal contamination: losing faith in food

Pork DNA has been found in Halal chicken sausages served at a London school. Photo: VidiPhoto/DPA/Press Association Images

The discovery of pork in Halal meat served to school children in London will alarm faith groups. When a child chooses a menu option marked "Halal choice" for their school meal, a great deal of trust is involved. They have been let down.

Although Westminster Council will only say "at least one primary school served the sausages", the product was actually on the menu at 15 schools - so this will worry many more parents and children.

In fact I understand that the contaminated sample was actually found in a school kitchen. The primary school where the contaminated meat was served has still not been named - but I'm told parents have been told...So the full facts are sure to emerge soon.

The same school meal supplier has also discovered that "lean" minced beef actually contained pork and lamb. This product was used in 18 schools, it was not marked at "Halal" but may still have been chosen by children eager to avoid pork.

The worrying point here is that these tests might never have been done, they were not part of the official checks been made. What's more they come after the meat supplier had reassured the world that it had already done its own DNA tests.

For all consumers, the contamination scandal has shaken trust in the food chain. Faith groups will have particular sensitivities and will in future demand far more testing of products described as "Halal".