WEARSIDE butchers are urging people to shop local after the horse meat scandal.
The news that UK supermarket chains such as Asda, Tesco, Aldi and Sainsbury’s stocked burgers and frozen ready meals containing up to 100 per cent horse meat has caused mistrust in many households across the country.
Supermarket bosses have removed the products from their shelves, with Tesco taking action to drop the supplier, Silvercrest, after it emerged it had used meat originating from outside the UK.
Local butchers and farmers today said they hope the scandal will encourage more people to move away from buying meat from supermarket chains and instead rely on smaller, local high street sellers.
“People will start to move away from places like Tesco and back to a name they can trust,” says Marty Mcgill, owner of Hendersons Butchers in Roker Avenue.
“We source all our meat from JA Jewitt in Spennymoor, so we know exactly what we’re getting, and where it’s from.
“On top of that, we make all our sausages and burgers on our premises, so we know everything that goes into them is quality, local produce.”
David McCoy of AG Gibbons in High Street West, Sunderland, thinks the crisis could have been avoided.
He said: “It’s the same with any meat that’s imported – you just don’t know what you’re getting. That’s why we stick to what we know. All our meat is reared within the North East, be it Weardale or York. We can always trace it back the whole way.”
Many believe financial gain is the main reason behind the scandal, with horse meat proving cheaper than other meats in parts of Europe. This comes after the European Commission no longer recognised desinewed meat as beef in April 2012.
Dr Mark Woolfe, former head of food authenticity at the Food Services Authority (FSA) thinks this development may have encouraged suppliers to “cut corners” to meet demanding budgets from large chains looking to maximise profits.
With local suppliers and butchers confident the scandal will benefit struggling smaller businesses, it is up to consumers to establish just how much faith has been lost in supermarket spending.
Environment Secretary Owen Paterson has agreed with the heads of meat retailers over the weekend to introduce “more and tougher testing” of beef products, with the results to be published every three months by the FSA.