Pies contaminated with horse meat have been withdrawn from 47 school kitchens in Britain’s Lancashire County.
The Lancashire County Council said it pulled the beef pies after they provisionally tested positive for traces of horse DNA.
The results of the tests on a prepared cottage pie from an external supplier were reported late on Thursday evening and were passed on to the Food Standards Agency.
The incident is the latest in the horse-meat contamination scandal which has spread from Ireland and Britain across Europe.
Recalls continue to be announced in several European countries as testing of products continue.
The Lancshire council said its catering service submitted a range of beef products from its suppliers to be analysed by Lancashire County Scientific Services, in accordance with Food Standards Agency (FSA) guidelines.
County Councillor Susie Charles, cabinet member for children and schools, said: “We share the concerns people have about what is clearly a major problem in food supplies across the UK and Europe.
“Because of those concerns we decided to seek extra assurance that our external suppliers were not providing any products containing horsemeat DNA, and one of the products has returned a positive result.
“Relatively few schools in Lancashire use this particular product, but our priority is to provide absolute assurance that meals contain what the label says – having discovered this one doesn’t, we have no hesitation in removing it from menus.
Nationally, 29 of the 2501 samples tested to were found to contain 1 per cent or more of horse meat. The positive test results related to products or sources already identified. About 900 more test results are awaited.
The developments have come amid evidence that British consumers are turning from prepared meals in their droves.
A ComRes survey for the Sunday Mirror and The Independent on Sunday newspapers found 31 per cent of consumer had stopped eating prepared meals as the horse-meat scandal unfolded.
The poll found 53 per cent in favour of banning imported meat products until assurances could be provided as to the meat’s origin.
Forty-four per cent felt the British Government had responded well to the crisis, while 30 per cent disagreed.
The poll involved the questioning of 2002 adults.
In other news, food manufacturer Greencore has confirmed that its Chosen By You 350g Beef Bolognese Sauce, sold by Asda stores, contained 4.8 per cent equine DNA.
Greencore said it sourced products only from approved suppliers, which are regularly audited, who insist that they in turn use approved suppliers. The company was therefore carrying out a thorough and comprehensive investigation to fully determine how its supply chain came to be compromised, it said.
The company said it has received assurances from Asda that it remained supportive of Greencore and the steps it was taking with regards to this matter.
Greencore said it continued to participate in full with the intensive industry testing programme to examine the full supply chain in order to restore consumer confidence.
“All other test results on Greencore products have been negative, and none of its other sites have been affected,” it said.
Greencore produces 150 million prepared meals a year at its five British plants.
Other countries have continued to report instances of horse-meat contamination.
Austrian authorities said horse meat had been detected in tortellini dishes made in Germany.
Norway reported that lasagne products had been withdrawn from supermarkets after positive tests.
Authorities are reportedly investigating an abattoir in Denmark suspected of supplying horse labelled as beef.
In the Netherlands, a factory was raided on Friday amid suspicions horse meat had been mixed with beef.
Meanwhile, British environment secretary Owen Paterson has asked the Food Standards Agency to investigate claims that the Government was warned two years ago that horse meat could enter the food chain.
Former Meat Hygiene Service manager John Young – the service is now part of the Food Standards Agency – told the Sunday Times that he helped draft a letter to agriculture department Defra that he claimed was ignored.
Paterson told Sky News’s Murnaghan programme: “I have discussed it with the chief executive of the FSA this morning and she is going to go back through the records and see exactly what was said at the time.
The letter in question was purportedly to former minister Sir Jim Paice on behalf of Britain’s largest horse-meat exporter, High Peak Meat Exports. It warned that the horse passport scheme was failing.