Pork DNA found in Halal jail food

Major food retailers and suppliers are being summoned to an urgent meeting following a spate of mis-labelled or contaminated food products reaching the public.

On Friday, the Prison Service launched an urgent investigation and after a number of Halal meat pies and pasties supplied to jails were found to contain traces of pork DNA.

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) also said it was suspending a supplier of meat to prisons after discovering that food products may contain traces of non-Halal meat, despite being sourced from a properly Halal-certified supplier.

Islamic law forbids the consumption of pork. All the contaminated products have been withdrawn, the MoJ said.

On Friday the Food Standards Agency (FSA) ordered a meeting of food suppliers and retailers on Monday following a number of recent cases that have shaken consumer confidence in food labelling.

An FSA spokeswoman said: "People have a right to expect that the food they are eating is correctly described. It is the responsibility of food businesses to ensure the food they sell contains what it says on the label. We are considering, with relevant local authorities, whether legal action is appropriate following the investigation."

The meeting is being organised to establish what has been happening, and what the next steps should be.

A spokesman for the MoJ said that following the discovery of non-Halal meat and the traces of pork, all prisons were informed and the FSA immediately informed, before steps were taken to suspend the relevant supplier.

The FSA said the local authority where the supplier is based is now investigating how the contamination came about and whether products have been distributed elsewhere in the UK.

Justice minister Jeremy Wright said: "This is an absolutely unacceptable situation, and one which we regret greatly. 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."