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Saturday, 25 October 2014

South Cumbria butchers boom in wake of horse meat scare

SOUTH Cumbria’s independent butchers have seen a surge in sales as shoppers say nay to supermarket beef in the wake of the horse meat scandal.

Butchers have reported a rise in trade of up to 20 per cent since it emerged some beef products sold in supermarkets contain up to 100 per cent horse meat.

S Mason and Sons in Rawlinson Street, Barrow, is cheekily advertising itself as a “horse free shop” to encourage concerned customers to its store.

Butcher Steven Mason, who has had the shop for 18 years, said he had noticed many new faces opening the door since news of the scandal broke.

He said his business had soared by between 10 to 20 per cent as shoppers sought to purchase meat from a fully accredited butcher.

“That’s because our standards are generally a lot higher and we have full traceability,” he said.

“We know the breed, we know where it was born, we even know what the mother and father were.”

Last week the shop was subjected to a surprise audit – which it passed – to ensure it complied with the EBLEX quality standard mark for beef and lamb.

Mr Mason said he believed customers had a right to know exactly what they were eating and where it had come from.

“I was surprised that it was horse meat,” he said. “But when they’re doing eight burgers for £1 and the cheapest meat that we can buy costs £1.30 a pound... I didn’t know how they were getting the meat at that price.”

The scandal broke about a month ago when testing revealed horse DNA present in frozen beefburgers sold at supermarkets in Britain and Ireland.

Since then it has emerged some of Europe’s biggest meat companies, including ABP Food Group, Spanghero, Comigel and HJ Schypke, had supplied contaminated products.

Barrow resident Maureen Marshall is one shopper who has changed her buying habits in the wake of the scandal.

She said she was “absolutely disgusted” that horse meat could have made it not just onto supermarket shelves, but into hospitals and schools as well.

“I was someone who always shopped at supermarkets, but I don’t even like looking at the meat now,” she said.

Neil Charnley of NC Meats in Dalton Road, Barrow, has also experienced an increase in trade in recent weeks.

He said he hoped it would entice shoppers back to specialist high street butcheries where they could be confident in the quality of their purchases.

“We had a gentleman in the other day who bought two pieces of rump steak and he said he had never been to a butcher’s and bought steak before,” he said.

“He had them and since then he’s been back every other day and he said he’d never go back to a supermarket for meat again.”

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