The Ministry of Justice and food supplier 3663 have withdrawn a range of Halal beef pastry products from some UK prisons, after some were found to contain pig DNA.
The move comes after Burger King, Tesco, and a number of other supermarkets removed burgers from sale amid concerns that they may be tainted with horsemeat, despite being advertised as beef.
3663 said that a "very small number" of its Halal savoury beef pastry products had come from one particular food manufacturer, McColgan Quality Foods.
It said it recognised a potential connection between a Halal beef producer mentioned within a report by the FSAI (Food Safety Authority of Ireland) and a supplier of Halal savoury beef pastry products stocked for the Ministry of Justice.
"We took immediate steps to inform the Ministry of Justice of this potential connection purely as a precautionary measure and together took the decision that these Halal savoury beef pastry products should be quarantined to prevent their use pending DNA testing," 3663's group managing director Alex Fisher said.
"3663 initiated DNA testing on multiple production batches of the Halal savoury beef pastry products from the manufacturer in question. Disappointingly, we received evidence that within the products tested there were traces of porcine protein. These results shocked us as the manufacturer in question is accredited by the Halal Food Authority."
3663 said it had removed all Halal products from the manufacturer from the supply chain and that it would not source any further Halal products from the manufacturer. Islamic law forbids the consumption of pork.
"Our sentiments echo those of the Ministry of Justice, in that this is a wholly unacceptable situation and one that we deeply regret, we are however relieved that our own prompt actions following identifying a potential risk from the FSAI report enabled the earliest possible removal of these products from sale," Fisher added.
The company also stressed that the products had not gone on general sale but were confined only to "custodial establishments".
In a statement, McColgan's said: "McColgan's can confirm that it is proactively co-operating with the Food Standards Agency and its local representatives following the discovery of trace elements of porcine DNA in a limited number of halal-certified pastry products which are supplied to 3663 as part of its contract to the prison service.
"McColgan's has already taken swift measures to identify, isolate and withdraw all of the products which are supplied to the Prison Service while an investigation to determine the circumstances surrounding this deeply regrettable and unforeseen incident takes place."
"McColgan's is keen to stress that at no point has pork of any kind been included in the recipes of any of the halal-certified products it supplies."
By Neil Gerrard
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