NORTHUMBERLAND County Council has moved to allay fears over the meat it provides to schools across the county as the furore over horsemeat continues.
Councillor Peter Jackson, leader of Conservative group, has questioned the origins of the county’s school meat, claiming it is “widely rumoured” it is sourced from eastern Europe and Africa.
He said: “On the one hand the council is promoting local produce to support local people in the local economy. Yet, I fear the reality is that, just as Tesco has been found to be selling imported horsemeat, our council is merely going for the cheapest, rather than looking at the quality of its supply.”
But a spokesperson responded: “Northumberland County Council delivers school-meal services to approximately 54 per cent of the schools in Northumberland. The council sources meat from a local supplier who utilises abattoirs located within the north east of England. This supplier was selected following a robust regional procurement exercise.
“Their processes and that off their whole supply chain are inspected and assured by the Soil Association, with all meat certified by Red Tractor and the Farm Assured standard.”
The Red Tractor assurance covers every aspect of food production chain, meaning produce can be traced to its farm of origin.
The council debate comes as it emerges that eight horses slaughtered in the UK have tested positive for a veterinary painkiller known as bute, which is not allowed in the human food chain. However, no food products have tested positive for bute.
Local Butcher John Foreman, who owns R.G. Foreman in both Eyemouth and Norham, said: “A bit of horsemeat probably won’t do you any harm, but to be 100 per cent safe and have complete confidence in what you’re eating, going to you local butchers is the best bet.
“I’m always happy to tell people that we get all our beef from cattle – just down the road from where I live in Norham.”