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Firm behind pork scare in halal burgers say no traces have been found

The makers of halal lamb burgers at the centre of a contamination scare in Leicester schools, say new tests show their products were completely pork free.

Paragon Quality Foods – based near Doncaster – say their reputation has been 'unfairly damaged' by the results of the tests carried out on behalf of Leicester City Council.

Their burgers were withdrawn from 24 schools in the city as a precaution earlier this month.

Mayor of Leicester, Peter Soulsby, said the council wil do additional tests.

Burger maker says reputation has been 'unfairly damaged'

Paragon Quality Foods, the company at the centre of a scare over halal lamb burgers, say their products are 'pork free', despite tests by Leicester City Council.

The firm said the initial DNA tests carried out by the council, which found halal burgers contained some pork, were not carried out on a formal controlled sample .The company sent samples to an independent specialist.

'I am pleased to announce that all of the results confirm that Paragon Halal Lamb burgers were clear of pork. Our good reputation has been unfairly damaged by the publications since May 8, 2013 and we trust that it will now be fully restored.'

– Metin Pekin, Paragon Quality Foods

Leicester City Council said last week that they had removed the burgers as a precautionary measure while further tests on the burgers were carried out. They also said they would no longer continue to work with the company,

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Halal burger tests challenged

The Paragon Foods factory at Armthorpe, near Doncaster Credit: ITV News

The manufacturers of halal lamb burgers withdrawn from schools in Leicester after a sample was said to contain pork, have challenged the findings of the test.

Leicester City Council took the decision to remove all the halal lamb burgers from schools following the scare and 6000 letters were sent out to parents, following DNA tests at Doncaster-based Paragon Quality Foods Limited.

The company say the tests were not based on a formal controlled sample and are challenging the decision. They say their own independent analysis shows the results should have come back that the burgers were 'pork free'.

Investigation launched over halal contamination

The Food Standards Agency and Doncaster Metropolitan Council are investigating how, and where, pork got into halal lamb burgers that were then supplied to schools in Leicester.

Further tests are being carried out on remaining stock at Paragon Quality Foods in Doncaster.

The city council is pressing the relevant authorities to investigate this matter as rigorously as possible. Food fraud is a serious offence and those responsible should face the full force of the law

– Adrian Russell, Leicester City Council

The council has contacted the headteachers of the 19 schools potentially affected to advise them of the action being taken. 6000 letters have also been sent to parents of children at the schools concerned. Meetings have also taken place with Muslim city councillors.

19 of 24 schools that use halal affected

Leicester City Council say the only product they sourced from Doncaster-based Paragon Quality Foods was halal lamb burgers that were found to contain pork.

19 of the 24 schools in the city that use halal meat are affected.

"We understand that since March 1st 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.”

– Trevor Pringle, Leicester City Council

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Doncaster company responds to meat contamination discovery

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.

– Metin Pekin, Paragon Quality Foods

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 "appalled" by halal contamination

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."

– Assistant Mayor of Leicester, Vi Dempster

Halal lamb burgers, manufactured by Paragon Quality Foods Limited, have been withdrawn from Leicester schools after tests revealed a sample contained pork.

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