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Quality is key to future of meat sales as food testing starts in Devon

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: February 12, 2013

Richard Haddock

Richard Haddock

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Shoppers could be turning to high street butchers and farm shops in search of traceable meat products following the horsemeat scandal.

The suggested shift in consumer habits comes as testing ordered by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) begins in Devon to identify the scale of the problem. But at Cornwall Council a spokesman said it had not been asked by the FSA to check for traces of horse in meat products in the Duchy and was not one of 28 local authorities selected.

One Westcountry butcher said customers were so sickened by the thought of processed food, thanks to the horsemeat scandal, many had been reluctant to buy even minced beef from his shop.

Devon farmer Richard Haddock, who runs the Churston farm shop, near Brixham, said he had not sold "even a gramme" of beef mince on Saturday because dishes like lasagne and bolognese were off the menu.

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He said he had to reassure customers that his Aberdeen Angus cattle could be traced back to the very field where they were reared. In one case he was asked to produce a "passport" to satisfy a buyer of the beef's provenance. "It shocked me," he said. "The biggest damage this whole thing has done is to confidence – now we are having to rebuild trust."

Frozen foods firm Findus last week announced it had taken its beef lasagnes made by French food supplier Comigel off shelves after some were found to have up to 100% horse meat in them.

An elaborate supply chain for the horse meat found was traced through Luxembourg, France, Cyprus, the Netherlands and Romania, denting confidence in processed and cheaper, imported meats.

Brindon Addy, chairman of the Q Guild representing 130 butchers nationwide, said: "There has definitely been a spike in sales for the high street butcher in recent weeks – some are saying by as much as 20 and 30%.

Supply and price analysts EBLEX said there was no "hard and fast" data available yet, but anecdotal evidence suggested a rise in "savvy" people buying "fresh" meat and "higher-quality" products.

Steve Brown, a butcher from Saltash, said many meat processing companies had switched to the cheaper alternatives from outside Britain, but others were happy to pay more for quality. "Even though it is more expensive, it's what the customers want," he said.

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6 comments

  • abcxyz  |  February 13 2013, 11:03PM

    "I don't eat meat now but I come from a family of small butchers and if you think that small local butchers are the paragons of virtue when it comes to what is in their 'hidden' foods like mince, pies, sausages, burgers, brawn, pates, black pudding ******s etc then I suggest you think again. Believe me you just wouldn't want to know what some small, local and so called 'traditional' butchers put into some of their products. You really wouldn't. Doreen Smith"

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  • EdnaFruitcake  |  February 12 2013, 1:01PM

    European horsemeat v British mad cow disease. It's tough to say who holds the moral high ground isn't it Mr Haddock.

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  • Maximus  |  February 12 2013, 12:07PM

    All restaurants I know use A1 quality meats generally sourced from reputable sources including many Family Butchers. The meat used are 100% traceable and often from local abattoirs. As it should be....

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  • tatxtal  |  February 12 2013, 10:56AM

    In reply to EdnaFruitCake Me thinks you work for Tesco. The words you use are plagiarised from one of their reports. Sad you could not add something positive.

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  • EdnaFruitcake  |  February 12 2013, 10:14AM

    If the recent scandal has proved anything it is that most people cannot taste the difference between cheap horse meat and beef when it is in lasagne, burgers etc. The Romanian horse meat was being produced for human consumption, though we tend not to eat it in this country. It is perfectly edible and with an ever growing population may prove to be more popular in the future. You can bet the first thing butchers will do is put their price up as 'this is the real thing dearie, you gotta pay if you want quality aint ya'.

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  • tatxtal  |  February 12 2013, 9:46AM

    Dishonest people will always look for an easy way to steal or cheat. Super markets enable them to easily and care not until it hits their profits. Tesco horse butchers a prime example. I am pleased for local butchers as it evens the playing field, I seldom have similar opinions with Richard Haddock, but this time I do. One answer is not to purchase processed food when there are alternatives. Remember processed food is not for your convenience but the supermarkets profits. I recall going to a local butcher in Liskeard, selecting the cuts I required and ask to have it minced to my size (mushy or chunky). The machine was on the counter. The only chance of contamination was Pork with Beef or some other meat on offer, if the previous customer had different to me. Venison with Beef 50,50 was my favourite!

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