Council under pressure over school meals horsemeat

Edinburgh City Council Green party Councillor Chas Booth. Picture: Comp
Edinburgh City Council Green party Councillor Chas Booth. Picture: Comp
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COUNCIL chiefs have been urged to come clean about when they knew horsemeat had been found in school meals and why they failed to tell parents.

Days after it was revealed horse DNA had been discovered in a batch of minced beef used at six Edinburgh primaries, the Greens said they had demanded answers from city environment leader Lesley Hinds.

They want to know how long the council knew about the test results and why they weren’t made public earlier. It has been suggested an attempt was made to “bury” the bad news by releasing it on Good Friday, when no senior councillors were on hand to answer questions.

They also slammed the controversy as evidence of a food system “gone badly wrong” and said school supplies should be overhauled “as a matter of urgency”.

Councillor Hinds said she had received the Greens’ questions and would seek answers later this week.

Cllr Chas Booth, Green member for Leith, said: “When I raised concerns about trust in food in schools and other council premises on March 14, little did I realise that the city council was already sitting on a powderkeg. Green councillors have demanded answers on how the city council has dealt with the horsemeat in schools scandal and urged a major rethink in the way food is provided.”

The concerns emerged after council bosses issued a statement on Friday confirming horsemeat had been found in beef taken from the shared kitchen of Pirniehall and St David’s primary schools.

Oxgangs, Craigroyston and Forthview primaries, and Braidburn Special School, were also supplied from the same batch.

The samples were taken in late February before catering supplier 3663 instructed sub-contractor Amey to pull the product following its own positive tests on March 8.

Education bosses insisted they had sent out letters confirming test results, but angry parents said on Friday that no such communication had been received.

Green councillors said the row showed that the council’s Food for Life pilot – which saw menus at Currie High and Buckstone Primary changed to include more local produce – should be rolled out across Edinburgh.

Cllr Booth said: “As long as we continue to deal with huge corporations whose focus is on volume and profit we’ll face these 
problems.”

Cllr Hinds said: “I am aware of Cllr Booth’s questions and I will be seeking further information in the coming week following these test results.”