BEEF was taken off school menus in the Henley area this week following the horse meat scandal.
The decision was taken as a precaution by Carillion, which caters for primary schools across Oxfordshire under the name Food With Thought. The company wrote to schools explaining the situation on Monday.
A spokesman said its suppliers had promised no meat was contaminated but it had sent samples for independent DNA testing for “further assurance”.
He said: “Due to the ongoing and understandable concern surrounding horse meat contamination, we recognise that many parents would simply prefer their children not to eat beef at the moment. We have therefore taken the precautionary decision to remove all beef from our lunchtime menus. Carillion would like to reiterate its reassurances that the food provided through its Food With Thought school catering service has the highest level of quality and hygiene.”
Schools affected included Badgemore and Valley Road in Henley and Shiplake, Kidmore End and Peppard primaries. Staff at Valley Road said up to 15 parents had already taken their children off school meals.
Janet Maul, headteacher at Kidmore End Primary School, said: “There’s been no anxiety from parents. We contacted them as soon as we heard the news and so far we haven’t heard anything back. There is no reason to assume that there has been any contamination.”
Oxfordshire County Council said Carillion was the sole supplier for its schools but some schools said their beef came from elsewhere.
Gillotts School in Henley sources all its meat from Hampshire company Pabulum.
Headteacher Catharine Darnton said: “We have contacted Pabulum and they confirmed all their meat comes from fully approved sources. No parents have contacted us but I wanted to make sure our pupils are being fed the right things.”
St Mary’s School in Henley is independent and its own caterers use meat supplied by Shiplake Butchers. Headteacher Rob Harmer said: “There hasn’t been any concern from parents whatsoever. We don’t have much beef on the menu but we’ve sought assurances from our suppliers to ensure we know where everything comes from.”
Nettlebed Primary said Carillion provided the school’s lunches but Henley butcher Gabriel Machin supplied its meat. Watlington, Stoke Row, Checkendon and Woodcote primaries are all supplied by Wigan-based firm Dolce as is Langtree School in Woodcote.
Watlington primary headteacher Andrew Markham said: “Dolce have assured us that there are no problems. We haven’t had any enquiries from parents but I think we pre-empted them by putting something in the newsletter.”
Sonning Common Primary has its own cafeteria and receives its meat from village butcher Carl Woods.
Headteacher Chris Hirst said: “We always try to get our ingredients locally.
Because of everything that’s in the news, we’re putting something in this week’s newsletter to reassure parents.”