Denbighshire butchers to cash in on horse burger controversy


Helen Davies

BUY local if you want to be certain you won’t accidentally eat horse meat.

That’s the message from Denbighshire’s butchers in the wake of a supermarket meat scandal which emerged last week.

Varying amounts of horse meat were discovered in burger products in Tesco, Aldi, Lidl and Iceland, according to a report released by the Food Standards Agency in Ireland (FSAI).

Tomi Jones, manager at Jones’ Butchers in Llangollen, branded the finding “disgraceful”.

“People who buy meat from supermarkets don’t know what they’re buying but by using local butchers you do,” he said.

“All our meat is from a 25 mile radius and it’s slaughtered in my dad’s abattoir.

“Our burgers just include prime Welsh beef, seasoning and very little water.”

He added: “Some people think butchers are more expensive than supermarkets but not all of them are, we can keep the prices down because we cut out the middle man.”

The FSA study found: “In nine of the 10 beefburger samples from these retailers, horse DNA was found at very low levels. However, in one sample from Tesco, the level of horse DNA indicated that horse meat accounted for approximately 29 per cent relative to the beef content.”

A number of samples also tested positive for pig DNA.

Professor Alan Reilly, chief executive of the FSAI, said while the findings posed no risk to public health, shoppers “do not expect” to find horse meat in a burger.

Glyn Davies, a butcher from Denbigh, agreed it was best to use a local producer when buying burgers.

“The thing is to buy local, then you know exactly what you’re getting,” he said.

“It’s impossible with the price of meat these days to make them cheaply without cutting corners.

“We make our own burgers and have full traceability from the abattoir, it’s all local meat.

“We use seasoning and onion in our burgers, but the rest is meat.”

Craig Stubbs, operations manager at Rhug Farm Estate, said more and more people wanted to speak to a butcher before buying meat.

“The thing we’ve found over the last few years is that customers will look for traceability,” he said.

“We’re lucky here because our beef comes from our own farm.

“The butcher can pretty much point out of the window when people ask where the meat is from.”

Tesco, which has a store in Ruthin, printed an apology in national newspapers last week which said: “While the FSAI has said that the products pose no risk to public health, we appreciate that, like us, our customers will find this absolutely unacceptable.

“The products in our stores were Tesco Everyday Value 8 x Frozen Beef Burgers (397g), Tesco 4 x Frozen Beef Quarter Pounders (454g) and a branded product, Flamehouse Frozen Chargrilled Quarter Pounders.

“We have immediately withdrawn from sale all products from the supplier in question, from all our stores and online.”

The supermarket giant said anyone who had any of the products at home could return them to store for a full refund.

“We and our supplier have let you down and we apologise,” the statement continued.

“So here’s our promise. We will find out exactly what happened and, when we do, we’ll come back and tell you.

“And we will work harder than ever with all our suppliers to make sure this never happens again.”

The ingredients listed on a pack of Tesco Everyday Value 8 Beef Burgers are: beef (63per cent), onion (10per cent), wheat flour, water, beef fat, soya protein isolate, salt, onion powder, yeast, sugar, barley malt extract, garlic powder, white pepper extract, celery extract and onion extract.

The Co-operative have stores in all the towns in the Free Press circulation area and have similarly withdrawn some burgers from their shelves.

A spokeswoman from The Co-operative Food said: "We can confirm that we take two lines of frozen own-brand beefburgers (The Co-operative 4 Beef Quarter Pounder Burgers and The Co-operative 8 Beef Burgers with Onion) from Silvercrest Foods.

"Neither of these products have been implicated in this report. However, we are taking this matter very seriously, and, purely as a precaution, we are removing them from sale while tests are being conducted to ensure they have been produced to our strict specifications."

Lidl, who have a store on Vale Street in Denbigh, also removed their Moordale 4 Frozen Premium Beef Quarterpounders from shelves following the FSAI report.

A spokesman for the chain said: “The relevant authorities have confirmed that this does not cause any health risk whatsoever but this does not detract from the fact this should not have happened.”

Lidl has said it is conducting a “full investigation” into how horse meat came to be in the burgers and that any customer who had purchased them could get a refund.

See full story in the Free Press

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