MEAT in council-run schools and care homes in the borough has been deemed safe to eat in the wake of the horsemeat scandal.
South Tyneside Council says it has carried out the necessary checks with suppliers and is happy that products can be traced back to a reliable source.
Horsemeat has been detected in several branded and supermarket-own processed meat products over the past few weeks.
But a spokesman for South Tyneside Catering Services said it uses very little processed meat.
“We have made all of the necessary stringent checks for council-run schools, nurseries and care homes across the borough and are satisfied with the quality assurance documentation from our meat suppliers,” he added.
“We use very little processed or convenience foods, with most of our meals being cooked from raw ingredients and prepared by experienced professional caterers.”
Burgers and ready meals have been hauled off the shelves by major retailers after some were found to contain up to 100 per cent horse meat.
They include Findus lasagne and Tesco Everyday Value spaghetti bolognese, which was found to contain 60 per cent horsemeat.
Burgers from Tesco, Co-op, Lidl, Iceland and Aldi have tested positive for equine DNA. Others have been withdrawn from shelves as a precaution by Morrisons, Asda and Sainsbury’s.
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has ordered food businesses to check for horsemeat in all processed beef products, such as beef burgers, meatballs and lasagne. The first set of results is expected on Friday.
Meanwhile, Environment Secretary Owen Paterson has met with food industry representatives for the second time in a week to discuss the crisis.
He reiterated that it appeared “criminal activity” had been at the heart of the scandal.
But he added: “The FSA has been quite clear giving advice to all those who supply to public institutions –schools, prisons, hospitals – and it is the suppliers who have the ultimate responsibility for the quality of what they sell.”
Police said they were waiting for any evidence of criminal activity from the FSA before an investigation could begin.