Last night as the council informed the world that pork was discovered in halal chicken sausages served at its primary schools, its appears the officers of the council saw fit not to inform the members of the Council on this grave matter for the parents of the City of Westminster. Please see attached e-mail letter from Cllr Papya Qureshi of Westbourne Ward below to the CEO of the Council Mike More:
The fact that you are sending us a PR message and that we actually have more information from a Guardian article, amongst others, shows an utter disregard for the gravity of this matter, which I personally find insulting.
Horse meat is one level, this is a completely different level – you cannot mix the two up and I am worried now that Chartwells may have been providing such meat for a lot longer than you anticipated.
I can not start to explain to you the feeling of disgust and impact this will have on the many Muslim and Jewish residents of Westminster, like myself. In the few hours of this evening, I have already had concerned friends and family members from the borough contact me.
I expect to face many more concerns from residents over the coming days and weeks. The information you have provided so far does not scratch the surface of the concerns people will have and under-equips Muslim members like myself to honestly address this.
Even for the most secular Muslims, one line which is never crossed is the eating of Pork. I find it unacceptable that you did not inform us earlier that concerns of pork contamination were there, that tests were being conducted and what the outcome of these tests were immediately and in more detail.
Both Halal and Kosher meat are so specifically prepared and has indeed been so for many centuries, puts into question: just how hard can it be to get it wrong? Further in a borough where Halal meat is so widely available locally, how does Chartwell, which is paid over £3million by the council, still not manage to deliver?
Your press release uses the terms ‘may have’ and ‘potentially affecting’. Further just last month the council denied that even horse meat was being used and claimed that Chartwell’s meat was fresh and prepared by kitchen staff. What is the true extent of this and what actions is the council taking above and beyond what your press release indicates?
Cllr Papya Qureshi
Sent from my BlackBerry® smartphone
For many families in the City of Westminster this is confirmation of their worst fears when the horse meat scandal first broke, particularly muslim ones. That the food served to their children was similiarly contaminated. Its quite clear that the council ( and probably other ones as well across London ) must immediately source their halal food locally rather then through these big suppliers. In the meantime, its going to have to be vegetarian food for the children for the time being, as l understand primary schools like Gateway have notified their parents already this morning.
The council will have lost alot of credibility over this episode and its going to take an awful long time to regain the confidence of some very dissappointed parents and their children in the borough.