NORTH East butchers are calling on customers to trust local produce in the widening horsemeat scandal.
News that burgers and microwave meals sold at some UK supermarkets may contain up to 100% horsemeat has shocked people in the region.
Environment Secretary Owen Paterson told the House of Commons this week it appeared “criminal activity” was at the heart of the scandal.
Now butchers and farmers in the region have voiced concerns that meat prices may shoot up and have encouraged people to spend money locally.
Charlotte Harbottle, of Charlotte’s Butchery in Ashburton Road in Gosforth, said: “There is a small pocket of people who are saying no to meat altogether and that this is the final straw.
“I think this is a short-term reaction and that people will be going back to their local butcher. Most of our meat comes from County Durham. It is as local as I can possibly get it.”
William Grant, manager of JD Hall butcher in Corbridge, said: “I think for local butchers [the scandal] is going to have more positive effects as it goes on, but we don’t know how market prices are going to be affected.
“If it pushes prices up, supermarkets are going to try and do something about it so it might have a detrimental effect. It is too early to tell. In general, people really appreciate that our meat is fully traceable.”
Robin Baty, owner of North Acomb Farm Shop in Stocksfield, Northumberland, said: “I think everybody is very concerned. It is a disgrace. If it had been on the label people would have had a choice. You get what you pay for and when these meals have been so cheap then I think there can be nothing but rubbish in them.
“The sooner everything comes out the better.
“If anyone has done something wrong, they should be hauled over the coals for it so people can get back to normal and feel reassured as to what has happened.”