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Friday, 19 December 2014

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North Cumbrian hospitals safe from horse meat crisis

Hospital bosses in north Cumbria say their patients have not been inadvertently served with meals which may contain horse meat.

Alan Davidson photo
Alan Davidson

Experts say the growing scale of the scandal has highlighted the value of relying on local sources of beef.

Schools bosses in Cumbria have already said that they use the local firm Pioneer, which has confirmed that its suppliers have no links with those which are implicated as sources of horse meat wrongly labelled as beef.

Now North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs both the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle and the West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven, has followed suit, saying that they too use a local supplier.

Alan Davidson, the trust’s director of estates and facilities said: “All of our raw meat, particularly beef, comes from only two sources, Pioneer Foods in Carlisle who proudly only process Cumbrian produce and Estuary Fine Foods from Askham in Furness, who are farmer-butchers and rear most of their beef and lamb on their own farm.

“The remainder is purchased in the south lakes area. We purchase meals for specialised diets from Tillery Valley Foods and have already had assurances from them of the safety of their products.

“As we produce our meals from fresh ingredients we are confident that there is no opportunity for horse or other meats to become incorporated into our foods without our knowledge.”

Last week, officials at Cumbria County Council said the authority works closely with food suppliers to check the provenance of meat supplies.

The News & Star has reported how the Cumbrian butcher Cranstons has seen a surge in sales of beef as consumers horrified by the horse meat scandal buy locally. Beefburger and beef mince sales have risen by five to 10 per cent.

Cranstons’ managing director Philip Cranston said the firm’s process from field to counter is straightforward and honest.

The Carlisle-based food firm Cavaghan & Gray has also confirmed that none of its products are implicated in the horse meat scandal.

Along with other food firms, the company is planning to carry out further tests as demanded by the Food Standards Agency, said a spokesman, who added the firm can trace its meat ingredients to the originating farms.

The National Farmers Union Cumbrian livestock spokesman Graham Hogg urged consumers to buy only products with the Union Jack or Red Tractor logo on it.

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