Burger company challenges DNA tests

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The Yorkshire makers of halal lamb burgers withdrawn from a city’s schools after a sample was said to contain pork have challenged the findings of the test.

Leicester City Council ordered the move last week following DNA tests on a batch of frozen burgers manufactured by Doncaster-based Paragon Quality Foods Limited in January.

The company said yesterday the finding was not based on a formal controlled sample in which samples are retained for further independent analysis.

Managing director Metin Pekin said: “We have since obtained the DNA data upon which this report was based and sent it to an independent specialist.

“Based on the conclusion of this specialist, Paragon is satisfied and pleased to announce the DNA data in actual fact show that the burger should have been declared as pork free.

“Furthermore following this allegation Leicester City Council has conducted nine formal tests on various batches of halal lamb burgers manufactured by us between October 2012 and March 2013.

“I am pleased to announce that all of the results confirm that Paragon Halal Lamb burgers were clear of pork. Our good reputation has been unfairly damaged by the publications since 8 May 2013 and we trust it will now be fully restored.”

Trevor Pringle, the council’s director of young people’s services, said last week it was withdrawing all stock it had received from Paragon while further investigations were carried out, and it would not be sourcing any more products from the firm.

He added: “We have made it clear to our suppliers that this is totally unacceptable, and we are taking urgent legal advice about the next steps.”

All other halal products used in the council’s kitchens – including 24 city schools – are supplied by another company. They have been DNA-tested and found to be compliant, the authority added.

A council spokesman said yesterday: “We still await the detailed results of the second test on the affected batch of burgers.

“We can confirm that we have commissioned our own tests on different batches of the burgers removed from our schools. However, as this is part of an active investigation we can’t comment on the findings of those tests, as this may prejudice any future legal proceedings.”

In February, the Ministry of Justice said it was to suspend a firm supplying meat to prisons after tests found that it may have provided halal pies and pasties with traces of pork DNA.

And the horse meat scandal, which began to unfold in January, found frozen burgers supplied to several supermarkets including Tesco contained horse DNA.

Investigations later revealed other beef products sold by retailers including lasagne and spaghetti bolognese were contaminated while meals in schools and hospitals had to be withdrawn after it was found they contained horse meat.