Argyll and Bute Council is following the advice of procurement agency Scotland Excel and taking a precautionary approach to the use of frozen products in its school kitchens.
Like other Scottish local authorities, the council buys frozen meat products through Scotland Excel, which is in talks with suppliers about the authenticity of their meat products. Suppliers have been carrying out independent testing on a national basis and regular updates are provided.
On 22 February, Scotland Excel advised all Scottish councils to place a hold on the use of all frozen beef burger products. As a precautionary measure, and along with other Scottish local authorities, we have stopped using frozen beef burgers, beef meatballs, mince and sausages with immediate effect. Alternative products have been identified to ensure that a choice of nutritionally balanced meals continues to be available in schools.
Our environmental health team are responding to this national issue through a co-ordinated approach with other councils and the Food Standards Agency. Targeted food standards inspections are being undertaken at approved premises for meat preparation, production of meat products, cold stores meat preparations, and meat product manufacturers' preparation. These visits will assess compliance with the relevant food legislation on labelling, composition and provenance. They will also establish the steps taken to prevent material from species not declared on labelling from being incorporated into products.