Plymouth butchers urge shoppers to "buy local" amid snowballing horsemeat scandal
BUTCHERS are urging people to "buy local" as the horsemeat scandal continues to snowball.
Independent traders in Hyde Park and Torpoint are among those backing a campaign to encourage consumers to shop at their local stores.
Horsemeat has been found in schools, hospitals and one of the country's largest pub and hotel chains, as well as in products sold by several supermarket chains, as allegations of food fraud continue.
As The Herald reported earlier this week, there are not thought to be concerns about food provided by Plymouth City Council – or meals served up at Derriford Hospital.
But one Cornish school has taken pasties off the menu "as a precautionary measure", as fears over contaminated food showed little sign of easing.
Butcher Mark Gliddon, from Torpoint, urged people to buy their meat direct from their local store.
"If people want a 100 per cent guarantee that the meat is local, is fresh, and good tasting then they have got to go to their local butcher," Mr Gliddon said.
Fellow butcher John Watters, of Hyde Park Road-based Voisins Butchers also backed pleas to restore consumer confidence in meat products by sticking to local, independent traders.
The city council provides catering for the majority of Plymouth's schools, community meals and residential homes.
A spokeswoman said its main meat supplier sold it "locally-sourced" produce from two South West companies – both of whom have offered written assurances that they provide 100 per cent beef.
But in Cornwall, Truro's Richard Lander School said pasties, beef pasta sauces and beef used in baguettes had all been withdrawn.
Steve Mulcahy, headteacher at the secondary school, said in a memo to parents: "These products will be temporarily withdrawn purely as a precautionary measure until they can confirm with 100 per cent certainty, the traceability of these products."
Other education authorities in the region also moved to reassure parents that meals supplied by third parties were not contaminated.
A spokesman for Devon County Council said: "Schools make their own catering arrangements, but those which have chosen to use Devon Norse, the council's catering supplier, have been given assurances that its meat products have full traceability and are sourced locally.
"Norse's beef burgers are either home made using locally sourced Westcountry beef or made especially for them using the same high quality ingredients."
The council added its trading standards team was carrying out its own investigations into meat products supplied in Devon.
Meanwhile, Cornwall Council has a contract with private firm Chartwells to supply meals to 197 schools.
A council spokesman said: "The authority takes the health and wellbeing of children in Cornwall extremely seriously and immediately contacted the company to seek reassurances. The company has confirmed that all its nominated suppliers have to meet strict food quality and safety standards and they regularly undergo independent audits to ensure these standards are upheld."