Many parents and carers may be worried about the recent news stories regarding horsemeat in pre-prepared meals. The following is the Sheffield City Council statement (dated 11 May 2013) on this issue.

Jayne Ludlam, Executive Director for Children, Young People and Families, Sheffield City Council, said:

“Under our contract with Taylor Shaw, very little pre-prepared food is used in the preparation of school meals. Dishes are made from fresh meat and supplies brought in two or three times a week to make sure that there is as little frozen meat product as possible. Dishes such as Lasagne and Meat and Potato Pie are always made by the cooks themselves to agreed recipes. The service is also regularly monitored to make sure this is carried out to the council’s expectations.

“Most of the meat used in school meals in Sheffield is provided by Underwoods Meats of Rotherham and only British beef is used. Burgers and sausages are provided by Brakes, which has no connections with any of the companies involved so far. All suppliers are complying with the Food Standards Agency’s deadline to have tested all beef products by Friday 15 February. Taylor Shaw are keeping us informed of all developments.”

Statement from Taylor Shaw (School Meals’ contractor)

“As a Company we take the provenance of our products very seriously. All our suppliers are required to undertake a rigorous due diligence process to ensure that all products are traceable and from reliable sources. The fact that we produce the majority of our meals from fresh ingredients supplied by UK butchers is reassurance as we are not using meat sourced from abroad.

“The latest information regarding cross contamination of meat has given rise to the need for additional vigilance, although as a company we do not use any of the products mentioned or indeed take product from the named manufacturers. It should be stressed that there are no hygiene or safety issues arising from the recent issues although the matter is extremely disturbing for religious compliance.

“All our halal meat comes from recognised suppliers within the relevant communities and as such we would expect the religious observance to be excellent. We have been in touch with all our meat suppliers and have spoken to them to ensure that they are complying with the Food Standards Agency deadline to have tested all beef products by Friday 15th Feb to ensure that the meat is of the highest quality and does not contain any cross-contamination. We have also asked our suppliers to respond to us as well with the findings. We will continue to be vigilant and review our processes so that if changes are required in our checks then these can be accommodated.”

Further Joint statement on behalf of Sheffield City Council and Taylor Shaw Ltd (15/2/2013):
“There is a national maximum level of prepared meat products that can be used on menus in schools, but the Sheffield specification is even stricter, which we test thoroughly and regularly. The majority of food from Taylor Shaw is prepared fresh on site each day and only 6 per cent of meals are pre-prepared.

“Although we have been given assurances by our suppliers about the provenance of the pre-prepared food, we take the safety of the young people in our schools very seriously. In light of the ongoing revelations of illegal activity by unscrupulous people regarding the contamination of processed meat products this week, as a precaution we have taken the joint decision to suspend the use of all processed meat products in all school meals with immediate effect.”

“We hope that this will reassure parents and carers who may have any reservations about their children’s school meals.”

“We are aware that the Food Standards Agency are carrying out urgent investigations into meat suppliers nationally and we will monitor any feedback from their investigations before considering the re-introduction of any processed meat products in our school meals, in the future.”

“We would advise all schools who do not have Taylor Shaw as their school meals contractor to adopt this decision.”