Horse meat and school and community meals

UPDATE: 21/02/2013

One of our suppliers has informed us that some batches of hamburgers supplied to them have been found to contain horsemeat. While we cannot be sure that products supplied to us have been contaminated in this way, we have taken prompt action.

We have asked all schools that we provide the catering for to withdraw the hamburgers supplied by the firm and use alternatives.

We are clear that there are no health risks associated with the hamburgers supplied to us.

We’ve had no deliveries from this firm since 21st January.

We will continue to monitor the situation.

Post from 15/02/2013

We take food safety very seriously and our environmental health team have been working to get to the bottom of how the current concerns about horse meat in food products in the UK might have affected Monmouthshire.

In short, to date we have not found horsemeat in food we buy and supply or in food produced in Monmouthshire by local producers.  The signs are good that Monmouthshire has not been affected.

School meals and community meals in Monmouthshire

We understand people may be concerned about the content of beef products that we buy for use in meals that we provide people who use our services. This includes school meals and community meals.

We’ve put procedures in place to ensure that only high quality food is purchased.  We buy our meat and meat products via the Wales Purchasing Consortium (WPC).  Local authorities in Wales have long recognised the need to develop additional layers of assurance in the safe provision of food.  This is being achieved by local authorities working together, through the WPC, not only in the way that they appoint their suppliers, but also in how they share information and identify areas of concern.

The WPC are working closely with its suppliers of meat products to ensure it remains unaffected by the recent issues of potential horse meat entering supply chains.  The WPC has contacted all suppliers to identify steps being taken to identify whether any are trading with suppliers identified by the FSA as potential sources.  To date none have been affected.

In line with guidance from the FSA, all suppliers have been asked to provide the test results of products and to demonstrate they are undertaking the necessary laboratory testing, or obtaining test results from their suppliers.  To date all tests results have been negative for horse DNA.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) is continuing its investigations into the mislabelling of meat products and we are being continually updated of developments.

Food sampling

Our Environmental Health team do regular, unannounced visits to all food producers in the county to monitor compliance with legal requirements and advise on good practice. In Monmouthshire we have a small number of producers of high quality meat products, whose ingredients are locally sourced and therefore have very short and clearly traceable supply chains.

It is unlikely that analysis for horse meat has been routinely carried out by meat product manufacturers in the past.  This has not previously been identified as a relevant issue for food producers in the UK, particularly those that have a high degree of confidence in their supply chain.  In Monmouthshire that supply chain is generally a very local one.

In response to the current scandal, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) has requested food businesses to conduct authenticity tests on all processed beef products and to provide the results to the FSA as matter of urgency.  The FSA is overseeing that work and the emphasis at this time is on large-scale processed-beef product manufacturers.  We have no such businesses registered in Monmouthshire. The FSA is also coordinating a sampling survey across the UK which will test a variety of products from a range of outlets.

We do routine sampling of locally-produced products and in support of nationally coordinated sampling programmes or local issues.  This local sampling is risk-based, intelligence-led and targeted.

The current approach to sampling is being coordinated at national level by the FSA to ensure that analysis is prioritised in accordance with intelligence, to ensure that effort is not duplicated, that there an efficient use of resources and that testing laboratories do not get overwhelmed.  It is coordinating a sampling programme across the UK which will test a variety of products from a range of establishments. We are giving our full support to the FSA in this matter.

The current priorities for individual local authorities is to focus on manufacturers that have been supplied by businesses implicated as potential sources of contamination and to date none of these have been in Monmouthshire. In the event that any are we will work closely with the Food Standards Agency to ensure that the appropriate action is taken as swiftly as possible.

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