Horse meat in school dinners
BRITISH schoolchildren have been given meals containing horse meat, DNA tests have confirmed for the first time.
Councils throughout Britain urgently withdrew processed beef dishes from menus after cottage pies containing horse meat were sent to 47 schools.
British hospital patients have also been given beef meals containing equine DNA, it emerged, as the scandal spread to pubs, restaurants and more supermarkets.
Mary Creagh, the opposition's environment spokeswoman, said: ''People will be shocked and dismayed that horse meat has now been found in schools and hospitals.''
The crisis could escalate further after two catering companies that supply schools and hospitals discovered horse meat in lasagnes and ready meals.
The Department of Health has written to all public health and social care providers to tell them to make sure they carry out checks on the ''authenticity of food''.
On Friday, the Food Standards Agency raided Flexi Foods, a Danish-owned company based in Hull, north-east England.
The company imported 60 tonnes of meat from Poland, which was later found to include up to 80 per cent horse meat.
Another company in north London where the beef was stored before being taken to Hull was also raided.
The European Union has agreed to immediately start tests for horse DNA in meat products.
The test program will also look for the presence of phenylbutazone, an anti-inflammatory treatment for horses that is harmful to humans and by law supposed to be kept out of the food chain.
In Lancashire, in the north-west of England, horse DNA was found in cottage pies sent to 47 schools. The council's laboratory has been carrying out DNA tests on samples collected by trading standards officers. Preliminary results show the presence of horse DNA in the school meals, which have been withdrawn.
Pauline Knowles, whose daughter attends the Great Wood Primary School in Morecambe, Lancashire, said: ''I think it is appalling, really, that it has not been tested before it has even got to our schools. The fact that horse meat is being passed off as beef I think is disgusting.''
Brake Brothers, which supplies hospitals and schools with meals, was contacting its customers after horse meat was found in one of its lasagnes.
The contamination in two samples was discovered by Whitbread, which is supplied by Brake Brothers.
Compass Group, one of the biggest school food providers in Britain, found between 5 per cent and 30 per cent horse DNA in beefburgers it sold in Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Telegraph, London; Agence France-Presse