08:40 Friday 18 January 2013

Farm shop urges consumers to 'buy local' after burger blunder

Written byJAMES BRINDLE

MEAT lovers in Uttoxeter are being urged buy their beef burgers from independent butchers in the wake of the horse meat scandal.

Rupert and Emma Evans, who run Denstone Hall Farm Shop, near Uttoxeter, believe that most people will be ‘disgusted’ by the news of the discovery of equine DNA in burgers sold by Tesco, Iceland, Aldi and Lidl and will question where their food comes from.

If so, they hope that shoppers will turn their backs on the major names and will instead seek out meat from trusted local suppliers.

The scandal came to light on Tuesday, when the Food Safety Authority of Ireland discovered horse DNA in burgers produced at two meat processing plants in Ireland.

Although in nine out of 10 burger samples, horse DNA was found in very low levels, in the case of burgers sold under the Tesco Value Beef Burgers label, tests showed horse meat accounted for 29 per cent relative to the beef content.

Mr Evans said: “Using horse meat in beef burgers is a gross error of judgement on someone’s behalf but nothing about the processed meat industry surprises me any more.

“It’s just another example of what happens when the supermarkets pile the pressure onto their suppliers to produce a low margin item at rock bottom price and this begs the question what else is going on that we don’t know about?

“Customers are much more in tune with where their food comes from these days and I’m sure most people will have been disgusted by the news.

“I sincerely hope that this affair makes consumers question the source of their meat and encourages them to visit their local farm shop or butcher in the future.”

Denstone Hall, whose butchery counter helped the farm shop win the Local Food Producer of the Year at the 2012 Taste of Staffordshire Awards, sells home-reared beef – including their homemade beef burgers – as well as locally produced free range pork, Staffordshire Moorlands Lamb and locally-sourced free range chickens.

Mr Evans added: “Major supermarkets deal with millions of pieces of meat every year and consequently have completely lost touch with where it has come from, which is why they can end up selling burgers that contain horse meat.

“A local butcher, on the other hand, knows everything about the meat that they are selling, including its all-important origin.

“There is a perception that butchers are more expensive than supermarkets, but if consumers compare the prices on the staple items they will be pleasantly surprised. Even on those items where they do pay more, they are buying quality and 100 per cent traceability.”

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