Hepburn on horsemeat: Town's MSP takes Cumbernauld High food scandal to Parliament
Written by Scott Campbell.
 
 
Published at 21:42 GMT on Tuesday 26th February, 2013.
Image © Andrew Cowan/ Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body – 2012. Licensed under the Open Scottish Parliament Licence v1.0.
Image © Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body – 2012. Licensed under the Open Scottish Parliament Licence v1.0.
 
JAMIE Hepburn, SNP MSP for Cumbernauld and Kilsyth has continued to highlight the issue of horse meat being found in burgers which were served to children at Cumbernauld High School, during a topical question time at the Scottish Parliament, today.
 
Cumbernauld High School frozen beef burgers were found to have been tainted with horsemeat, North Lanarkshire Council announced on Friday.
 
Following on from the authority’s announcement Mr Hepburn has, today, raised the issue during topical question time at the Scottish Parliament, as a supplementary question to Minister for Public Health Michael Matheson.
 
 
 
His interaction with the Minister reads as follows:
 
Jamie Hepburn: The minister will be aware that Cumbernauld High School, in my constituency, is the school in which frozen meat was found to be contaminated with horsemeat.  Although parents should be reassured by the higher standards that are set for school meals, will the minister say what steps will be taken to work with North Lanarkshire Council to ensure that it is meeting the standards?
 
Michael Matheson: It is entirely unacceptable that a company provided one of our local authorities with a product that contained horse DNA in the first place.  Scotland Excel has taken the right approach by asking all local authorities in Scotland to withhold all frozen meat products until further checks have been undertaken.  Of course, we expect suppliers to undertake further checks on their processes for procuring the ingredients for their products.
 
Yes, standards have improved over recent years, and yes, there will always be room to make improvements. The Government is more than happy to consider what further action could be taken, to do that.  However, it is important that we are not distracted from the fact that every day children get good-quality, nutritious meals from our schools.
 
North Lanarkshire Council’s results give us an opportunity to reflect on what further action could be taken, and the meeting to which local authorities have been invited, which is being taken forward by the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning and the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment, will allow councils such as North Lanarkshire Council to explore with them what measures could be taken to continue to improve the standard of food in the meals that are provided in our schools.
 
After his discussion with Mr Matheson, Jamie Hepburn said: “I completely agree with the Ministers comments and I too find it completely unacceptable that horse DNA was found in frozen burgers at Cumbernauld High School, or any other school for that matter.
 
“North Lanarkshire Council should now be thoroughly investigating this matter in order to track down the source of this contaminated meat in order to ensure that children and parents going to school in the local area can be assured that horse meat will not further enter the food chain.
 
“I would also hope that North Lanarkshire Council will accept the invite of the Scottish Government to a meeting with the Cabinet Secretary for Education and the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Environment, in order to discuss the measures which the Council can improve to ensure that no such incident happens in the future.”
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