02 March 2012

Checks by Northamptonshire County Council nutritionists have identified small amounts of gluten in two meals from current primary school lunch menus previously labelled by a supplier as gluten free.

Caterers have been told not to serve the shepherds pie & beef bolognaise - which are produced by a third-party supplier - to gluten-sensitive children because the presence of gluten means they are not suitable for pupils with gluten intolerance or Coeliac disease.

The meals appear on the menu cycle once every week and a half on average. Of the 14,000 pupils who receive the council's Nourish school meals service every day, 20 are registered to receive gluten-free food.

Councillor Andrew Grant, cabinet member for children, learning and skills, said: “Our nutritionists regularly monitor the ingredients used by our suppliers in the food we provide and it was as a result of these checks that we picked up the discrepancy between the labelling and the actual ingredients.

“The problem stems from the use of a gravy powder as a minor ingredient in both of those meals. While the quantity of gluten a child may have consumed is quite small, it is nevertheless completely unacceptable for a child with allergies to be exposed to this risk.

“We’ve requested a full investigation into the circumstances of how this has happened and in the meantime we’re providing suitable alternatives to the pupils that could have been affected.

“On the basis of our monitoring, we’re confident that the problem is confined to these two particular meals and all the other allergen-free food served is compliant with food-labelling requirements.”

Gluten is a part of wheat common in diets that is safe to consume unless individuals have a specific condition.

Any parent who has concerns about their child can call the council’s Nourish team on 01604 368736.