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Horsemeat scandal: Somerset County Council investigating school meals
Updated 8:41am Monday 18th February 2013 in Somerset
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SOMERSET County Council has said it is investigating whether school meals being served to pupils is laced with horsemeat.
A spokesman told the County Gazette: "We are liaising with schools and catering contractors to make sure that the food chain to Somerset schools is safe."
LJ Potter Partners says it has taken steps to recall meat delivered to France.
The firm also said it hasn't processed horses this week.
A full statement read: "LJ Potter Partners warned DEFRA that the Horse Passport Regulations would not ensure public health when the regulations were being drafted into British Law.
"All equines humanely destroyed by us have been accompanied by their passport permitting entry to the food chain.
"In addition to EU Regulations all suppliers are required to sign a declaration declaring that the animal has not been treated with drugs that would require permanent exclusion from the food chain, and that withdrawal periods have been observed for permitted drugs; prior to the 2005 regulations we required a strict 28 day withdrawal from all medication and in those circumstances we had zero positive test results for residues of Phenylbutozone during a period covering more than 20 years.
"We wish to produce meat that is wholesome, nutritious, good value and, most importantly, safe.
"The current EU Regulations have been proved, beyond all doubt, to be ineffective in permitting us to do this; they additionally are inappropriately excluding large numbers of horses from the legitimate food chain.
"It is our belief that this has been the causal condition that has led to large numbers of horses entering the food chain illegitimately.
"The fraudulent misrepresentation of horsemeat is a direct consequence of ignorant, mis-informed, badly drafted EU legislation.
"It is our belief that the majority of equines with a passport signed out of the food chain have a similar residue profile to those permitted to enter the food chain, and that the current news story proves that the Horse Passport Regulations 2005 & 2009 are wholly inappropriate to the control of equines permitted to enter the food chain.
"Having been informed of positive samples taken over the past two weeks, we have already taken steps to recall meat delivered to France in order to protect our French customers.
"We have, also, not processed horses this week to permit the FSA to put in place a test that is able to provide results prior to meat being despatched.
"We believe that this interim measure will ensure public safety. We will not process horses again until these measures are in place.
"We firmly believe that the humane destruction of horses for the human food chain has an important role to play in ensuring horse welfare, as otherwise unwanted horses would be left to enter a downward spiral to neglect.
"We are seeking a fundamental reappraisal of the legislation to permit our legitimate industry to perform its dual role in protecting horse welfare and providing customers who wish to purchase and consume horsemeat with a product in which they can be confident."
THE County Gazette has this afternoon been told by Stillman's that traces of bute found in carcasses slaughtered at its abattoir has nothing to do with them.
The firm says LJ Potter Partners, which slaughtered the six horse carcasses, simply rents its abattoir in Staplegrove one day a week.
Stillman's reiterated it does not buy or sell anything to do with horses.
BUTE, also known as phenylbutazone, in an anti-inflammatory drug potentially dangerous to humans.
But the UK's chief medical officer Dame Sally Davies said the risk was low.
In a statement, she said: "We are working closely with FSA and Defra to investigate how horsemeat got into the UK food chain.
“There is nothing to suggest a safety risk to consumers who may have eaten the products. All of the retailers involved so far have removed potentially affected products from their shelves.
“Phenylbutazone is used to treat some people who suffer from ankylosing spondylitis, a type of arthritis.
"However, there are international checks to prevent phenylbutazone from entering the food chain because there is a low risk of serious effects – such as aplastic anaemia – in some people.
“As such, it presents a limited public health risk and I support the FSA advice that it should be excluded from the food chain.
“There is currently no indication that phenylbutazone – bute – is present in any of the products that have been identified in this country but the FSA has ordered further tests to confirm this.
“It’s understandable that people will be concerned, but it is important to emphasise that, even if bute is found to be present at low levels, there is a very low risk indeed that it would cause any harm to health.”
A SLAUGHTERHOUSE in Somerset has been caught up in the horsemeat scandal.
Six horse carcasses slaughtered by LJ Potter Partners at Stillman’s (Somerset) Ltd 'may have entered the food chain,' the Food Standards Agency announced today (February 14).
The FSA has been testing for the presence of bute, which is not allowed to enter the food chain, since January 30 and said traces were found in six carcasses from Stillman's and sent to France.
The agency is gathering information on the carcasses and will work with the French authorities to trace them.
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