Town free of horse meat

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HEALTH and council bosses in Hartlepool have confirmed there is no trace of horsemeat in food provided to town schools or hospital patients as the national scandal rumbles on.

Officials at Hartlepool Borough Council and the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust have checked with their suppliers and moved to reassure residents over the food their children or relatives are eating.

Meanwhile, officials at Hartlepool United Football Club have also moved to allay any concerns fans may have over the food supporters buy at the home games at Victoria Park.

The horsemeat scandal erupted last month when Irish authorities found traces of horse in beefburgers made by firms in Ireland and Britain and sold in supermarket chains, including Tesco and Aldi.

Fears were further raised this month when French firm Comigel alerted Findus about the presence of horsemeat in meals it made for the company, meals which were on sale in this country.

Concerns centred around the fact that horses that have been treated with the drug phenylbutazone, known as bute, are not allowed to enter the food chain.

A spokesman for Hartlepool Borough Council confirmed the local authority has had no direct contact with the Food Standards Agency, after they instructed councils in England to test their supplies.

But officials said checks with suppliers have confirmed there is no horse meat in food brought by the council.

The spokesman added: “We receive all of our meat via the North East Purchasing Organisation (NEPO) and they have confirmed to us that their own proactive checks have found that there is no horse meat in any of the products they have purchased on our behalf.”

Officials at the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust have also confirmed to the Mail that food served at the University Hospital of Hartlepool, in Holdforth Road, and the University Hospital of North Tees, in Stockton, does not contain horsemeat.

Bosses say they “pride themselves” on the highest standards of catering and have thanked the suppliers for their prompt reassurances.

Colin Chapman, head of catering at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust said: “We pride ourselves on the highest standards of catering and we were naturally concerned about this issue and how it could affect our patients, visitors and staff.

“We have contacted all of our suppliers and had assurances from them that none of the beef products provided to us contain horsemeat.

“We thank our suppliers for addressing this issue so promptly and we are pleased to be able to provide this assurance.”

Meanwhile, officials at Hartlepool United have also been in touch with their suppliers of matchday food who confirmed in writing that all ingredients in food brought at Victoria Park are what is written on the packaging.