Frozen meat sales collapse by 44pc as consumers return to butchers
FROZEN beef sales have collapsed since the horse-meat scandal erupted last month.
New figures obtained by the Irish Independent reveal a 44pc drop in the sale of frozen burgers. Data from Nielsen TSR Multiples shows sales of frozen burgers, grills and sausages were 44pc lower in the week ending January 27 than the same time last year.
Sales of other frozen meat products were down 11pc compared to the same week last year.
However, the scandal has not put consumers off fresh beef, as sales of prepacked and loose beef from supermarket meat counters are 2.7pc higher than a year ago. The figures relate to total sales across Tesco, SuperValu, Superquinn, Eurospar and M&S, but are not broken down by individual retailer.
Tesco had to remove millions of burgers from sale in Ireland and Britain and cancelled its multimillion euro contract with ABP Silvercrest over what it called a breach of trust after one of its products was found to contain 29pc horse meat.
Data shows the slump kicked off as soon as the Food Safety Authority of Ireland probe was published in mid-January.
High street butchers have been reporting a double-digit increase in sales as consumers turn to them for locally produced meat.
Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney has contacted the British secretary of state for the environment, Owen Paterson, over comments he made in the House of Commons.
Mr Paterson had claimed Mr Coveney confirmed to him that testing for horse DNA followed "local intelligence". However, Mr Coveney has maintained that the DNA was found during routine testing.
The fallout has continued to reverberate around Europe, with investigations launched in at least three countries. In Britain, an investigation has been launched into claims that warnings about horse meat entering the food chain were raised in April 2011 but ignored.
A former manager with Britain's Food Standards Agency said he helped draft a letter highlighting failures to stop horses treated with phenylbutazone from entering the human food chain.
The drug, an anti-inflammatory painkiller, can be dangerous for humans in large quantities.
Meanwhile, Irish food giant Dawn has also become involved in the controversy after a company within the group – Oak Farm Foods – removed its pre-prepared cottage pies from a large number of school kitchens in the UK.
Last night, a statement from Oak Farm Foods said the quality and safety of its products was of the "utmost importance".
"Following the discovery of equine DNA in one of our products, the company has launched a full internal investigation into the matter," the statement read.