Lancashire Council of Mosques calls for county school meals boycott

27 February 2013 by
Lancashire Council of Mosques calls for county school meals boycott

The Lancashire Council of Mosques (LCM) has urged all Muslims in the county to boycott school meals provided by Lancashire County Council (LCC).

It follows revelations that Halal beef burgers that contained horse meat were served in Lancashire schools.

In recent food tests carried out by the county council at its Preston laboratory horse DNA was found in some products. One of the tests reported by the Food Standards Agency revealed the discovery of horsemeat in a Halal beefburger served to schools in Lancashire.

The LCM advises school children to take a packed lunch or return home for their lunch time meal, unless the school meals service has been certified by the organisation.

In a statement to the press, the LCM said it had provided a universally-accepted criteria of Halal to the LCC.

"This clearly outlines that the meat and chicken must be certified by a certifying body which has inspectors present at all plants from where the supplies are received. If this criteria had been adopted by the LCC, then no horsemeat would have been found in their Halal burgers.

"The responsibility for this distressing and unacceptable situation lies solely with the LCC. It is our view that the LCC have critically undermined the faith that thousands of Muslim families have in the food that is served in schools across Lancashire.

"The LCM hereby calls upon all Muslim families in Lancashire to boycott meals completely at all schools where the LCC are providing catering, including vegetarian and fish options."

But Geoff Driver, leader of Lancashire County Council, refuted this claim, adding that there are "strict" procurement guidelines in place.

He said: "I share the anger of Muslim parents; we all have a right to trust that the food we eat is what we believe it to be.

"However this issue goes beyond the supply of halal meat and affects the processed food industry as a whole. We have strict procurement rules in place that insist on food quality and safety and in the matter of halal accreditation we are guided by the Food Standards Agency, which consults with Muslim bodies nationally.

"There is absolutely nothing at all to suggest that had we followed the Lancashire Council of Mosques' demands this could have been avoided. We were forced to change halal food suppliers last year precisely because the supplier we previously used, which was insisted upon by the LCM, failed to provide adequate assurances about the source and shelf life of its products."

Halal foods are foods that Muslims are allowed to eat under Islamic dietary guidelines, which specify both what foods are allowed, and how the food must be prepared.

Horse DNA found at Compass, Whitbread and 47 Lancashire schools >>

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