Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Lancashire County Council - Horsemeat scandal - What is being done to protect LCC taxpayers and consumers?

I have today written to Lancashire County Council about the horsemeat which has been supplied for County Council services.

My office submitted a Freedom of Information Request asking about whether Oak Farm Foods (the company which supplied adulterated beef products containing horse DNA) had any contracts with other LCC services. The FOI request revealed that Oak Farm Foods does supply a number of care homes, however the processed beef products have been withdrawn.

Lancashire County Council has been caught up in the horse meat scandal. Horsemeat has also been found in cottage pies supplied to 47 schools in Lancashire. These have been withdrawn.

It is important that Lancashire council tax payers and residents have faith that appropriate action is being taken to ensure this issue does not reoccur and that the Council is compensated for the adulterated meat, breach of contract and any non disclosure. The meat company having known about horsemeat adulteration prior to notifying the County Council.

Tory run LCC have previously refused to name the schools involved or the supplier but were exposed by the Daily Mail.
"It is understood the supplier involved, Oak Farm Foods in Ireland, has been supplying the ready meals for at least the past six months. There are also suggestions that the pies and other products made by Oak Farm have been supplied to schools and other outlets across the UK and Ireland."
It appears it may have come via Catering giant Compass Group and Whitbread, one of Britain's largest hotel chains, have found horse DNA in products sold as beef, it has emerged. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-21476140

Things took a twist yesterday.The Irish government have released their report into the horsemeat scandal with some useful details around the Lancashire schools issue.

Oak Farm Foods is the UK division of Dawn Fresh Foods, the Fethard, Co Tipperary-based convenience food company. The report says that QK Meats – who supplied the mince to Dawn Fresh Foods to make the cottage pies – first tested positive for horse in June 2012 but did not tell anyone. They also continued to use the same Polish suppliers.

This is the link to the report: http://www.agriculture.gov.ie/media/migration/publications/2013/EquineDNAreport140313.pdf 
Irish Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney has slated the "inexcusable" delay by QK Meats in Naas in notifying his department of its discovery of horse DNA in imported meat until weeks after the Europe-wide crisis broke.

Speaking in the Dail on the release of an official report into the horse-meat scandal, Mr Coveney criticised QK Meats, which is part of the Queally family's food empire, for "knowingly withholding information about problems in the supply chain".
Yet Lancashire County Council have nothing to say about the matter. From a dithering Tory-led government to a dithering Tory local government.
Labour's shadow minister Mary Creagh

QK meats, Ireland had positive test for horse on 27th June 2012 yet continued to buy Polish beef for 400 EUR a tonne cheaper than Irish beef. They (who supplied horse to birds eye and Lancashire Schools) failed to test other products and inform Irish govt of positive DNA tests for horse. Inexcusable. They supplied horse meat in cottage pies supplied to 47 UK schools recalled 8th March. Hope Lancashire children get justice from all this.
There must now be a clear case for Lancashire County Council to consider legal action against QK Meats and Dawn Fresh yet it I fear it be a long wait before aqny action is taken by County Hall.

LCC taxpayers’ money has been used to buy a contaminated and fraudulent product. The Council may not have a legal responsibility to check and guarantee the quality of the meat, but it is imperative they act decisively and transparently on behalf on Lancashire residents when processes have been shown to fail.