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Butchers react to horsemeat scandal as sales soar

Butchers say they are selling up to 30% more in the wake of the horsemeat scandal as supermarket chains including Tesco, Iceland, Lidl, Aldi and frozen foods firm Findus admitted they found horse DNA in some of their products.

Paul Gyorgy, from the Sheepdrove Organic Farm shop in Bristol, said increasing numbers of customers are now taking an interest in where meat is sourced.

Butcher Paul Gyorgy stands beside his butchers block ready for butchering his meat at the Sheepdrove Organic Farm shop in Bristol. Credit: PA

He said: "You have the odd joker coming talking about horse meat in supermarkets, but most customers are genuinely interested in where their products are coming from.

"People know they can trust British. You go to any butcher's shop and they will tell you exactly the journey the meat has taken to get to the shop.

Butcher Paul Gyorgy discusses a customers choice of meat at the Sheepdrove Organic Farm shop in Bristol. Credit: Press Association

Steve Brown, who runs a high street butcher's shop in Saltash, Cornwall, said: "I only use westcountry meat, from Devon and Cornwall, because I can be assured of the quality. Even though it is more expensive, it's what the customers want, too. They know it will be good quality.

"But companies are always trying to sell me meat from Saudi Arabia, Botswana, Romania. It might be more expensive, but people can trust British meat."

UK butchers report a marked spike in trade

UK butchers reported a marked spike in trade as customers turn their backs on imported and processed goods as the extent of the horsemeat contamination is revealed.

Industry figures said consumers returned to the high street butcher as confidence in processed and cheaper, imported meats plummets.

Yorkshire butcher Brindon Addy - the chairman of the Q Guild which represents 130 butchers across England, Scotland and Wales - 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%. It is obviously great news for those butchers who have found it difficult to compete with the big supermarkets in the past. People slip into the convenience of supermarket shopping, but whenever there is a scare - be it horse meat or BSE - they always come back.

Read more: The Romanian horsemeat claim

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Tesco apologises for horse DNA in spaghetti bolognese

Tesco has apologised to its customers after it found three Everyday Value Spaghetti Bolognese products were found to have more than 60 per cent trace of horse DNA. Tesco withdrew the product a week ago as a precaution and carried out a number of tests on the products' content.

The frozen Everyday Value Spaghetti Bolognese should contain only Irish beef from our approved suppliers. The source of the horsemeat is still under investigation by the relevant authorities. The level of contamination suggests that Comigel was not following the appropriate production process for our Tesco product and we will not take food from their facility again.

– TIM SMITH, TESCO GROUP TECHNICAL DIRECTOR

For the full Tesco statement click here

Tesco: Three products had more than 60% horse DNA

We have carried out a number of tests on the product [Everyday Value Spaghetti Bolognese] and those tests identified the presence of horse DNA. Of the positive results, most are at a trace level of less than 1% but three showed significant levels of horse DNA, exceeding 60%. We have carried out further tests to ensure that there is no danger to health through the presence of potentially harmful bute. The test for bute was clear.

– Tim Smith, Tesco Group Technical Director

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Minister forced to wait until April for horsemeat tests

Environment secretary Owen Paterson said his Romanian counterpart was convinced meat had been packed and correctly labelled when it left the country.

But Mr Paterson added: "The fact is, we do not know yet, and we need to get absolutely clear where the problem has occurred and get it sorted."

When he was asked why UK local authorities could not get tests on meat going to schools and hospitals tested before April, he said: "There is a limit across Europe and across the world in laboratory capacity. We would all like these tests to be done as fast as possible."

Read more: The Romanian horsemeat claim.

Call for 'UK origin' labels to combat 'murky' beef

The National Beef Association has hit out at the "murky" side of the processing industry in the wake of the horsemeat scandal and called for all UK beef to be labelled with the words "United Kingdom" origin on its packaging.

Chris Mallon, national director of the NBA, urged consumers to prevent "further cheating" by suppliers by ensuring the beef they purchased was taken exclusively from cattle born, reared and processed in Britain. He added:

The integrity of their product contrasts hugely with the horsemeat that has infiltrated the domestic food chain as a result of careless, or unscrupulous, actions undertaken by participants in a supply chain which is understood to cover companies in Poland, Luxembourg, Romania, France and the Republic of Ireland. None of this can be traced to point of origin, and some of it may fail provenance tests, so it is no surprise that criminal investigations are already taking place.

Robust new meat checks for schools and hospitals

by - Consumer Editor

Food Standard Officials have today issued some robust guidelines to public institutions amid the horsemeat contamination scandal.

They have made it clear that suppliers of meat to schools and hospitals are to be included in a UK-wide system of checks.

The companies that supply public bodies will be subjected to new "verification and validation" tests. Schools and hospitals have been told to require their suppliers undertake tests.

The new document has gone to schools, prisons, hospitals and the armed forces.

The key advice is they must "seek assurances" from all their meat suppliers.

They have also been told to take a hard line and "reject or ... withhold stock" from any firm that they are not fully satisfied can give the right guarantees.

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