By James Legge
Westminster Council said today that the â€˜chickenâ€™ sausages have been withdrawn from the menu at its schools, as well as lean minced beef which showed evidence of lamb and pork DNA.
In the meantime, the council said it had asked its contractor to drop its Halal meat supplier.
The council said officers took seven samples from three schools at the end of February, adding that the tests â€œwere carried out on our own initiative and not carried out as the result of any specific concerns about school food standardsâ€.
The tests looked for the DNA from beef, lamb, pork, chicken, turkey, goat and horse. They found no horse.
The pork- which isnâ€™t allowed under Islam- was found in one sample taken at St Maryâ€™s Bryanston Square, a Church of England school in west London.
A further round of tests today confirmed the preliminary findings.
The Halal sausages were a menu choice in 15 primary schools, two nurseries, one special school and one pupil referral unit, all of which took Halal-only meat. The lean minced beef was used in 18 schools.
The authority said it had launched its own investigation to establish how the contamination arose.
Westminster City Councilâ€™s tri-borough director of childrenâ€™s services Andrew Christie said: â€œWe are very concerned by the discovery that a contractor has fallen short of the high standards we demand. We also understand and regret the upset that may have been caused to parents and children alike. We are contacting schools, parents and faith group leaders and are offering to meet them to discuss their concerns.
â€œWestminster City Council took prompt action when this issue came to light and immediately ensured this product stopped being served in the schools in question. We have asked our contractor Chartwells to no longer use the meat supplier involved.
â€œThe discovery of pork in these sausages came about because of extra tests Westminster City Council decided to carry out. The results were all the more shocking given the assurances about the food we receive from our suppliers. I can assure parents we will keep testing our school meals.â€
The council said it alerted the Food Standards Agency on March 11, as per procedure.