The Doncaster-based makers of halal lamb burgers withdrawn from schools after a sample was said to contain pork have challenged the findings of the test.
Leicester City Council ordered the move last week following DNA tests on a batch of frozen burgers manufactured by Paragon Quality Foods Limited.
The company said that the finding was not based on a formal controlled sample in which samples are retained for further independent analysis.
– Managing director Metin Pekin
We have since obtained the DNA data upon which this report was based and sent it to an independent specialist.
Based on the conclusion of this specialist, Paragon is satisfied and pleased to announce that the DNA data in actual fact show that the burger should have been declared as pork free.
Furthermore following this allegation Leicester City Council has conducted nine formal tests on various batches of halal lamb burgers manufactured by us between October 2012 and March 2013.
I am pleased to announce that all of the results confirm that Paragon Halal Lamb burgers were clear of pork.
– Trevor Pringle, the council's director of young people's services
We understand that since March 1 this year, the product supplier, Paragon Quality Foods Limited, has only been releasing product to customers after obtaining negative DNA results for pork.
However, as a precautionary measure we have removed all of the burgers we had in stock from this supplier whilst further investigation is carried out, and we will not be purchasing any further products from this supplier.
We have made it clear to our suppliers that this is totally unacceptable, and we are taking urgent legal advice about the next steps.
All other halal products used in the council's kitchens - including 24 city schools - are supplied by another company, the council said last week. They have been DNA-tested and found to be compliant, it added.
– Metin Pekin, Paragon Quality Foods
We have been informed by a customer that a Halal Lamb burger produced by Paragon Quality Foods Ltd has tested positive for the presence of pork.
Paragon Quality Foods Ltd is a pork free site and has never knowingly bought or handled pork.
We have carried out a full traceability of the product in question and have provided this information to the relevant enforcement authorities.
The public analyst at Doncaster Borough Council has conducted unannounced formal sampling of our products on two occasions, with clear results.
The company says it is also working with the council to provide all information requested and add that they are satisfied with practices and procedures. They are awaiting the results of further testing.
– Assistant Mayor of Leicester, Vi Dempster
I am appalled by this situation. It is disgraceful that none of us can have confidence in the food we eat.
We regret any distress this will cause families and staff, and would like to reassure them that robust action is being taken to address this serious matter."
Halal lamb burgers, manufactured by Paragon Quality Foods Limited, have been withdrawn from Leicester schools after tests revealed a sample contained pork.
Leicester City Council have confirmed they are no longer working with the business at the centre of a food contamination issue in the city. 19 schools are affected by the news that a sample halal lamb burger was found to contain pork meat.
The Federation of Muslim Organisations has told ITV Central it is "shocked and distressed" to learn that halal food, contaminated with pork meat, has been supplied to schools in Leicester.
This is a shocking and unacceptable development. As Muslims, we cherish our strict dietary needs, which are well known and have been developed for well over a thousand years. The consumption of pork and alcohol is prohibited for all Muslims.
This recent event will raise an issue of confidence in the Muslim community as to the measures and processes that are put in place that gives assurance of halal meals. All due diligence procedures should be thoroughly reviewed and bolstered where necessary and should include intermittent and random sample testing which should encompass DNA testing.
– Suleman Nagdi, Federation of Muslim Organisations
It is hoped that this will not occur again and the community are now looking to the city council and our elected councillors for this assurance and to rebuild the confidence that has clearly been shaken.
Leicester City Council has revealed that halal lamb burgers have been removed from city schools after tests revealed pork in a sample burger.
The sample burger was one of a batch of frozen burgers manufactured by Doncaster based Paragon Quality Foods Ltd.