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Horse meat scandal could benefit butchers

Butchers say their meat is fully traceable Photo: ITV News Anglia

Butchers in the region say they're noticing an increase in trade following the discovery of horsemeat in supermarket ready meals.

They're urging shoppers to be more vigilant about buying British meat and checking labels. But according to the British Retail Consortium, there's no evidence of any change in shopping habits - or that people are turning away from supermarkets.

James Archer knows everything about the meat he sells in the family butcher shop in Norwich. The business was established in 1929 and over the past few days he's noticed a 15 per cent increase in sales, which he puts down to public concern over horse meat being in the food chain.

The labels on his meat are his guarantee that it's sourced locally. His has come less than 20 miles, from Tavistock Farm in Antingham where William Amley has some 500 cattle. He hopes this controvery will provide the boost he feels the British farming industry needs.

"We've had several issues over the past 20 years with beef. We've got our house in order at last and I think that things are on the up for us and we must keep our product to a good standard."

Last week Findus was forced to withdraw beef lasagne found to contain up to 100 per cent horsemeat, and supermarkets Tesco and Aldi were forced to apologise for selling products with it in.

For shoppers at Norwich market today, the horsemeat controversy is a hot topic of conversation

They should put what's on that package - that's my point. They should put on horsemeat if they're going to put horse meat in there. They're cheating people."

But the problem for butcher is - can they really afford to compete on price?

James Archer says you get what you pay for.

"You can buy a pound of mince and make a lasagne relatively cheaply compared to buying a ready made product, then that way you know it's 100 per cent British... it's 100 per cent local... and it's been prepared in a good environment. You know it's 100 peer cent beef, you have complete confidence in the product."

Verity and Michael Sharp are involved in producing beef and lamb on their farm at Pebmarsh on the Essex/Suffolk border. They don'ty accept supermarkets are inevitably cheaper or more convenient.

"There's often not enough time and a ready made meal would be easy but often you can go to the butchers and they have really good quality ready made meals, pies and different things that you can buy and can be just as quick and 100 per cent traceable."

ITV Anglia spoke to the British Retail Consortium which is working closely alongside the Food Standard Agency and the Government to try and tackle this problem. It's view is that people's shopping patterns haven't really changed; that consumers still trust the supermarkets, alhough there is evidence that people are buying more fresh burgers rather than frozen ones."

Those involved in British agriculture hope what has happened in the last week will make consumers more aware of what they're buying and eating - despite Governemnt officials saying there is very little health risk from the contaiminated lasagne.