Two of the firms that were involved in supplying Halal chicken sausages that contained pork DNA to a Westminster primary school have said they believe it was an "isolated incident". Westminster Council discovered the traces after carrying out tests on school food. Ria Chatterjee reports.
The company which supplied Halal meat to schools in Westminster, which have now been found to contain traces of pork, has made the following statement:
"Further to media speculation and allegations, we would like to clarify our position regarding the matter of Pork traces found in Halal Chicken Sausages supplied to a School in Westminster.
"We supply over 20,000 Kilo of sausages every week, and have robust and regulatory approved processes throughout our factory, and have never had any issue such as this before. We have also had 2 completely clear tests taken from our products so far, and we await the outcome of a third.
"Due to these robust process, and further to a complete internal investigation, we agree with the Nigel Fredericks statement that we can only think that this has happened as a result of human operator error with one batch of these sausages, and this is what may have led to the cross-contamination.
"We are very sorry that this has happened, as we pride ourselves on supplying some of the best quality sausages in the UK, and we extend our apologies to any person who may have consumed this product.
"We are continuing to send more of our products for testing, to help satisfy all customers and potential end users that our product traceability is seamless."
– Klaus Koentopp, Managing Director, Brook Farm Sausages
Butcher Nigel Fredericks, the company which supplied Halal meat to schools in Westminster, has made the following statement following the discovery of traces of pork in chicken sausages:
"Further to media speculation, we would like to clarify our position regarding the matter of Pork traces found in Halal Chicken Sausages supplied to a School in Westminster.
"This product was sourced from Brook Farm Sausages, and then supplied to the school in question through a 3rd party distributor.
"We have used Brook Farm Sausage for many years, and can only think that this was an isolated incident involving some element of human error.
"We are currently investigating the cause of this unfortunate and regrettable incident as a matter of utmost priority, together with Compass UK and Brook Farm Sausages.
"We are very sorry that we have had a product come through our supply chain that has failed to meet the high standards we and our customers expect, and extend our apologies to any person who has potentially eaten this product.
"Since media speculation started in January concerning the integrity of meat labelling, we have had over 15 samples taken from our premises and/or our customer’s premises, mostly at random, and many without our knowledge.
"So far, with the exclusion of the sausages named in this incident, every result that has come back has been certified as completely clean from anything other than what was stated on the label.
"We are continuing to send more products for testing, to help satisfy all customers and potential end users that our product traceability and safety is robust."
List of schools affected by Halal meat contamination
Test results show pork was present in a sample of halal chicken sausages which may have been supplied to 19 schools and nurseries. A further sample of non-halal lean mince beef shows that pork and lamb was present, potentially affecting 17 schools and nurseries
Schools serving halal chicken sausages:
St Augustine's CE
St Barnbas CE
St Peters CE
Mary Paterson Nursery
Portman Childhood Centre
Schools serving halal chicken sausages and non halal lean mince beef:
Official statement from the East London Mosque & London Muslim Centre:
"The East London Mosque and London Muslim Centre isdeeply concerned about the discovery of pork DNA in ‘Halal’ school meals servedto Muslim primary school children in central London.
Whilst we welcome Westminster City Council’s swift response over this matter, this latest revelation over contaminated food supply chains will be hard for parents to ‘stomach’.
As consumption of pork or meat that has not been slaughtered in accordance with their faith is strictly prohibited, there will be serious issues of concern and mistrust between Muslim parents and schools across London. We hope a resolution can be sought quickly and effectively as possible.
Any subsequent investigation will need to rigorous and transparent to restore the confidence of the Muslim community. Any acts of criminality and negligence by its contractor will have to be answered.
We trust the Food Standards Agency (FSA) will make their own enquiries and take appropriate action, especially if a supplier has been found to be deliberately supplying pork meat but labeling it as chicken meat.
The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) has added: "This discovery underscores the dire need in this country to establish agreed standards, processes and regulations amongst our halal meat suppliers. We need a collective approach to ensure these expectations are realised."
An authentically credited Halal meat supplier registered with the ‘Halal Monitoring Committee’ should be used to source meat and supplies."