Bristol butchers flourish due to horse meat scandal
COUNCIL environmental health officers in Bristol and North Somerset are to carry out sampling of meat products following the international horse meat scandal.
Council officers are to investigate the supply chain of meat products used in food supplied to schools still under local authority control, as well as the area's hospitals.
The move followed the discovery that processed foods and ready meals sold in Europe and the UK labelled as beef contained horsemeat.
Further tests then revealed up to 100 per cent horse meat was used in several ranges of prepared frozen food in Britain and across Europe.
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It is understood the horse meat may have come from abattoirs in Romania and into the food supply chain.
Products including Findus lasagne and Tesco Everyday Value spaghetti bolognese have been withdrawn from shelves as a result of the findings and a Government inquiry is now underway, although it is maintained there is no health risk from eating horse meat.
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has asked 28 councils to carry out food sampling or testing as a result of the scandal.
Although Bristol and North Somerset are not among them, the councils have nevertheless launched their own checks.
South Gloucestershire Council could not provide any information last night. Bath & North East Somerset said its suppliers had already DNA tested their beef products and found them to be free of horse meat.
Gillian Douglas, service director for Safer Bristol, said: "We are working closely with the suppliers to ensure that they are taking every precaution to ensure the integrity of the product supplied cannot be compromised. In order to reassure people we are also carrying out checks on the meals provided."
Extra checks and sampling is also being carried out by city council trading standards officers on meat processed in wholesale centres and cold stores in Bristol.
"We will be making every effort to ensure that local people are confident meat supplied in council meals or processed in Bristol is exactly as it is labelled," Ms Douglas added.
North Somerset Council spokes- woman Zoe Briffitt said: "We will not be testing meat at butchers or takeaways as this issue is more to do with meat products where different meats have been mixed into a single product.
"We will however be investigating the supply chain for meat products being used at Weston hospital and in some schools. We have already received confirmation from our main school meal caterer, Edwards and Ward, that they only use quality products from audited EC supplies for their beef burgers.
"We feel that sampling some products will help us reassure the public of the quality of meals they may be receiving."
Independent butchers say they have seen an increase in customers.
Kelvin Temblett, of Kelvin's Butchers in East Street, Bedminster, said: "We definitely had unusually high sales of beef burgers and mince on the weekend, so perhaps it is having an impact. A lot of people are talking about it and have accentuated the word 'beef' when they ask for their mince."
Butcher Adrian Goodhind, 46, works at Bakers of Nailsea, which has been trading in the area for more than 100 years. The butcher of 30 years said: "We source all our meat locally and all our animals come from North Somerset and we have our own abattoir, a quarter of a mile up the road. We have seen an increase in customers since the issue with horse meat in the food chain was first raised.
"People are concerned about where their meat is coming from and seem to have started moving away from supermarkets and back to local butchers where they can be sure of where their meat comes from."
An animal farm near Weston-super-Mare is also holding an open day this Saturday from 10am in a bid to quash fears over the horse meat scandal. Puxton Park, which has its own butchery department, will be offering people a chance to see behind the scenes to help restore confidence in the meat market.
Owner of Farm Meats in Easter Compton, Colin Agius, said: "We have definitely noticed a difference. People are obviously very concerned that they are not getting what they think they are at the supermarkets. People who come here know we do everything ourselves and we know what goes in our products."
Andy Paterson, from AP Meats, which has a mobile shop in Bristol, said: "What I found was we were a lot busier last weekend. People are feeling a real lack of trust and they want to go back to somewhere they know."
Abdul Malik, owner of a chain of six halal butchers in Bristol, said: "We have absolutely noticed a footfall increase in the shops. We have always advocated that the whole process of meat production should be looked at carefully. The truth is, in local shops you know where the meat has come from."
Mike Perry, from Perry and Sons, said: "Trade has picked up noticeably. When the scandal first broke two weeks ago we had locals coming and saying they don't trust supermarkets anymore."