A prison meat supplier’s contract has been suspended after traces of PORK were found in its Halal products for Muslim inmates.
The Halal pies and pasties sourced from a Halal certificated supplier have been withdrawn immediately, a Ministry of Justice spokesman said.
He added: “All prisons have been informed about this very regrettable incident and we reported this issue to the Food Standards Agency immediately.
“We are taking immediate steps to suspend the contract with the relevant subcontractor.”
The Food Standards Agency confirmed the incident involved traces of pork – meat forbidden to be eaten according to Islamic rules.
A spokeswoman said: “The FSA has been informed that a number of meat pies and pasties supplied to UK prisons which were labelled and served as Halal contained traces of pork DNA.
“The local authority is investigating how this contamination came about and whether these products have been distributed further across the UK.”
This related to the local authority where the supplier is based, she said. She declined to say which one it was.
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.”
Food and Farming Minister David Heath said: “People have a right to expect that the food they are eating is correctly described.
“I have made it clear that I want an urgent meeting with major retailers and suppliers first thing next week to get to the bottom of this completely unacceptable situation.”
The Prison Reform Trust said it welcomed the immediate apology and investigation.
Its director Juliet Lyon said: “This is not a matter of dietary preference but of Islamic law.
“There are clear hospital and prison rules that halal meat must be on the menu.
“This lapse will have offended and distressed high numbers of Muslim prisoners and their families so apologising, suspending the supplier and investigating the incident are the right steps for the Ministry of Justice to take.”
Muslim Halal meat makes up a quarter of the UK market.