Horse meat has been found in cottage pies which were delivered to 47 schools in Lancashire, it has emerged.

The horse DNA was discovered after testing was carried out on the pies, according to ITV news. Lancashire County Council has said it has removed the products from all school kitchens.

Lancashire County Councillor Susie Charles, cabinet member for children and schools, said it did not "appear" there is a food safety issue.

"We share the concerns people have about what is clearly a major problem in food supplies across the UK and Europe," she said in a statement.

"Because of those concerns we decided to seek extra assurance that our external suppliers were not providing any products containing horse meat DNA, and one of the products has returned a positive result.

"Relatively few schools in Lancashire use this particular product but our priority is to provide absolute assurance that meals contain what the label says - having discovered this one doesn't, we have no hesitation in removing it from menus.

"This does not appear to be a food safety issue but I've no doubt parents will agree we need to take a very firm line with suppliers and it is a credit to our officers that we have been able to quickly identify the problem and take the product off the menus."

The revelation comes a day after Staffordshire County Council announced it would be removing beef from school menus over fears of horse meat contamination.

Pub and restaurant company Whitbread announced on Friday it had found horse meat in its beef lasagne and burgers. The meals have been sold at restaurants and hotels including Premier Inn, Beefeater Grill and Brewers Fayre establishments.

Southampton University students have also fallen victim to the horse meat scandal, with the student union's campus shop selling Findus beef lasagne, the Soton Tab reported. A notice of apology was posted on the door of the SU shop saying: "We want to reiterate we are deeply sorry we have let people down, we are acting to make sure this cannot happen again and wanted to share what we are currently doing."

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The Food Standards Agency is due to report on UK products after asking retailers and suppliers to provide test results on processed meals labelled as "beef".

The news from Lancashire came after officials said burgers containing horse meat had been supplied to hospitals in Northern Ireland.

David Bingham from the health service's Business Services Organisation, which provides meat for the health trusts, said a range from a company in the Republic of Ireland had been withdrawn.

Northern Ireland's agriculture minister Michelle O'Neill has called a special meeting on the horse meat crisis.

Ahead of the FSA test results announcement several major retailers said test results on processed meals have proven negative for horse meat.

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Tesco, Sainsbury's, Morrisons, Iceland, Marks and Spencer and the Co-op said no horse meat was found in their products.

Asda withdrew its 500g beef bolognese sauce from shelves yesterday after tests revealed the presence of horse DNA.

The company apologised to customers and said it was taking a "belt-and-braces approach" by removing a further three beef products made by the same supplier, the Greencore plant in Bristol, as a precaution.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) had asked retailers and suppliers to provide "meaningful results" from tests to detect the presence of horse meat in processed meals labelled as beef.

The FSA said it wanted the food industry to show the food it sells and serves is what it says it is on the label.

Helen Dickinson, director general of the British Retail Consortium, which represents supermarkets, rejected claims that its members were slow to remove products potentially containing horse meat from their shelves.

"Retailers have not been reticent, they have been working hard over the last three weeks since this issue first arose to make sure any problems they do identify they act on quickly," she said.

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