Cumbernauld High horsemeat scandal reveals how Councillors find out local business through national media
Written by Scott Campbell.
 
 
Published at 19:52 GMT on Tuesday 26th February, 2013.
 
CUMBERNAULD High School students have been served horsemeat, North Lanarkshire Council have confirmed.
 
The council’s announcement followed precautionary DNA tests on samples of frozen mince removed from storage in North Lanarkshire school kitchens.
 
Most meat products were found to not have horsemeat in them. However, traces of horse DNA have been detected in a frozen burger removed for testing last week from a school kitchen within North Lanarkshire.
 
The council has notified the Food Standards Agency, as it is required to do, and investigations are continuing. In the meantime, stocks of beef burger products have been removed from North Lanarkshire school kitchens as a precaution.
 
North Lanarkshire Council investigations are focusing on the use of frozen burger supplies during the past three months, the maximum length of time these would be held in storage and the authority are working closely with the FSA and Scotland Excel, and will continue to take any action necessary to ensure the integrity of foods used in council establishments.
 
North Lanarkshire Council confirmed on Friday that one of the schools affected was Cumbernauld High School.

 
 
 
A spokesman for North Lanarkshire Council said: "We are now in a position to confirm that the frozen burger found to contain horse DNA yesterday was supplied by Brakes Group to Cumbernauld High School.
 
"It is simply unacceptable to the council that a supplier would supply a product containing horse DNA to one of our schools. We will continue discussions with Scotland Excel with a view to ensuring we are satisfied with the integrity of food supplied to us.
 
"In the meantime, we have removed all frozen beef products from our menus across all our premises. We will continue to carry out additional testing in the coming days.
 
"We cannot confirm that these products have not been consumed. However, the consumption of horse meat is not considered harmful to health. This is a consumer confidence issue: when we buy a product we expect it to contain what it says on the label.
 
"We have issued answers to some common questions on this subject to schools and this is available on our website at www.northlanarkshire.gov.uk. We will continue to take any action necessary to ensure the integrity of the food supplied to our establishments."
 
SNP Councillor William Goldie confirmed that he had e-mailed the authority’s Chief Executive, Gavin Whitefield for answers but that he only received a standard press statement, in the hours after sending his e-mail.
 
Councillor Goldie said: “I am extremely concerned that the school in which the horse DNA contaminated burger was located was a major High School which many pupils in Cumbernauld South attend, namely Cumbernauld High School."
 
In his e-mail Councillor Goldie blasts the authority’s first action, after the council went to the media instead of informing local representatives.
 
"I am extremely concerned that as an elected member of this Council that I had to be informed that traces of horse DNA were found in frozen beef burgers fed to pupils within this authority first from an irate parent (a situation that I could not confirm or deny) and then confirmed by news bulletins on BBC Radio Scotland,” the Councillor’s e-mail reads.
 
“With the Authorities move towards healthy eating, I was surprised that we were still sourcing frozen burgers for our schools. Do we have any further information on the extent of this situation or any clarification as to which schools have been affected? My understanding is that we have a responsibility to be able to source the origin of any meat products used in our schools, am I correct?
 
“We should be informed of these incidents through officers of the Council rather than national media,” the SNP man’s e-mail concludes.
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