THE FOOD Standards Agency (FSA) has called retailers and food suppliers in to an urgent meeting today, Monday 4th February.
The meeting has been organised following the discovery of pork DNA in Halal pies and pasties supplied to jails. Reports also suggest that some of the products, labelled as certified Halal, contained non-Halal meat.
The discovery comes just a few days after burgers at a number of retailers were found to contain horsemeat. Tesco and Burger King are among the companies affected.
Ministers and the FSA called the situation “unacceptable” and will bring some of the country’s biggest food companies in for talks this week.
“People have a right to expect that the food they are eating is correctly described,” said a spokesman. “It is the responsibility of food businesses to ensure the food they sell contains what it says on the label.”
The Ministry of Justice said it is suspending the supplier involved in the pork scandal. Islamic law forbids the consumption of pork.
"This is an absolutely unacceptable situation, and one which we regret greatly,” said Justice Minister Jeremy Wright. “Clearly this must be distressing for those affected and they can be reassured we are doing everything we can to resolve the situation. The Prison Service is investigating this as a matter of urgency."
This is not the first time that Halal meat has been in the spotlight. In late 2010 a Mail on Sunday investigation claimed that schools, hospitals, pubs and sporting venues were serving up meat slaughtered in accordance with strict Islamic law to “unwitting members of the public”. Footprint convened a roundtable in early 2011 to tackle some of the issues surrounding Halal and provide some clarity. The big issue is labelling: there is currently no UK labelling scheme for Halal.
New European Union regulations to protect animals at the time of killing came into force last month and the European Commission will launch research later this year to find out whether consumers want clearing labelling on how animals are slaughtered.