St Albans district butchers benefiting from horse meat controversy

Karl Jelley holding some British beef joints outside his shop in Harpenden

Karl Jelley holding some British beef joints outside his shop in Harpenden - Credit: Archant

BUTCHERS say that business is booming in the wake of the horse meat scandal as customers have turned their back on the supermarkets and come galloping up to their counters.

Independent traders in St Albans and Harpenden have reported increased sales of up to 20 per cent since it was revealed more than a month ago that horse meat had been found in some processed burgers.

Karl Jelley, who owns Jelley’s Meats in Southdown, Harpenden, said lots of customers have been paying attention to the sign outside his shop advertising ‘100 per cent pure beef’ burgers.

He said: “We have seen a surge as soon as people realised what was going on.

“They can trust us but they cannot trust the supermarkets.

“People are fed up of the supermarkets pulling the wool over their eyes. It will be hard for the supermarkets to get them back. It can only be good news for the local economy.”

Mr Jelley, who has worked as a butcher for 30 years, went on to criticise supermarkets for trying to drive down costs at the expense of stocking quality produce.

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According to his meat supplier, who is based at an abattoir in Oxford, a whole horse can be purchased for £1, while a cow comes in at £750.

John Pender from J T B Butchers in Central Drive, St Albans, said he has seen a 10 per cent upturn in sales of sausages, burgers and mince over the last three weeks.

He commented: “A lot of people have come through the door saying we have not been in before but due to what is going on we are going back to the traditional butcher again.

“I think the days of people buying on price have gone. The general public will look and see that butchers do a good job. We have got complete traceability of all our products.”

The horse meat furore first broke when it emerged last month that traces of horse DNA had been found in Tesco’s Everyday Value burgers. This was shortly followed by Findus beef lasagnes being swiped off the shelves after the firm admitted the product contained up to 100 per cent horse meat.

And it was not long before the spotlight was shone on possible contaminations in school dinners and hospital meals.

In St Albans parents have been reassured by Hertfordshire Catering, which supplies meals to 454 schools and academies across the county, that all of the meat they use is fully traceable and adheres to UK standards in meat production.

Frances Button, cabinet member for education and skills, said: “I can reassure pupils and parents that Hertfordshire Catering does not source any products from the suppliers named (to date) and none of their products have been implicated in any of these findings.”

West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust has also said that food used in its catering is horse meat-free, and stressed the quality of its patient meals was “vitally important”.

A spokesman said: “Our catering contractors, the Compass Group, have reassured the Trust that its nominated meat suppliers adhere to the required traceability, testing and hygiene standards and specifications.

“Independent audits are carried out regularly to ensure these standards are upheld.

“As an added precaution for the foreseeable future, Compass have taken the decision to begin a comprehensive and independent DNA testing programme across all of its processed meat products.”

St Albans district council has not been chosen as one of the 28 authorities to provide meat samples to the Food Standard’s Agency.

In a statement the council said they would continue to inspect local food establishments, including butchers and supermarkets, as part of their policy in relation to food hygiene and safety.