THE firm at the centre of the Capital’s horsemeat scandal has apologised by donating £2000 to a children’s charity – as parents demand answers on how long contaminated beef has been served in schools.
Fears are growing children may have been fed horsemeat for years after catering giant Amey stonewalled pleas for information on when distributor 3663 was brought in to supply schools.
The silence came as Amey – which signed its catering contract with the council back in 2001 – admitted it had apologised to the city council for failing to alert education bosses to 3663’s positive test for horsemeat on a batch of minced beef sent to primary schools.
Company directors said an urgent probe would be carried out into its supply chain after the March 8 discovery and revealed they would take a decision on whether to continue using 3663 after the investigation concludes.
They also outlined how they had made a £2000 payment to the Scottish NSPCC on behalf of the six city primaries – Pirniehall and St David’s, Oxgangs, Craigroyston, Forthview and Braidburn Special School – which received the contaminated batch.
However, based on existing rolls at the affected schools, and the national average for school meal uptake, the £2000 donation means Amey has shelled out just under £3 for every child likely to have eaten horsemeat.
Anxious parents have slammed the “empty gesture” as a drop in the ocean and claim the stunt detracts from the key issue at hand – namely how long have the Capital’s kids been eating contaminated beef?
They have demanded Amey bosses be “upfront” about when they began using 3663 as the main school meat distributor.
Susan Imonitanure, 40, whose seven-year-old daughter, Patricia, attends Forthview Primary, said: “They’re saying all of this is just recent, but it could have been going on for years.
“If this has been going on over a number of years then they’ve been deceiving us. I need to know what my kids are eating.”
Claire Caballero, 30, clerk at Friends of Forthview Primary parent council, said: “Amey need to be completely upfront about this and if they can’t how can they ever be trusted? Two thousand pounds is a drop in the ocean. It’s nothing.”
Gillian Duggan, managing director of Amey Built Environment, called the incident “unfortunate”.
City education leader Paul Godzik said it was “unacceptable” that Amey had not passed on the information “immediately”.
“Had we known, we could and would have alerted parents to this at that time,” he said.
Opposition councillors claim the row showed the Capital’s school meals were ready for an overhauled.
Councillor Chas Booth, Green member for Leith, said parents were victims of a “food system that puts volume and profit way above quality and trust”.
NEIGH LAUGHING MATTER
THE food mislabelling scandal galloped into the headlines in February when it was revealed one lasagne contained up to 100 per cent horsemeat.
The revelation Findus lasagnes were awash with horse – and not beef – prompted the Food Standards Agency to order nationwide tests.
We told on February 15 how school meals were to be tested for horsemeat after environment chiefs ordered the city council to analyse its entire food supply chain.
Hundreds of samples were taken from school canteens, leisure centres, tourist attractions, care homes and meat processing plants across the city.
Those results are only just starting to filter through now - to the horror of parents.