independent

Friday 19 September 2014

Horse meat: Listowel butcher speaks out

DONAL NOLAN

Published 23/01/2013 | 13:58

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Proprietor, Brendan O'Mahony (centre) with staff members, John McGlynn (left) and John Brennan in his shop in The Square in Listowel. Credit: Photo by John Reidy

IF supermarkets were held to the same standards as butchers, horse meat would not have appeared in burgers, Kerry butchers say.

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The exacting standards governing the butcher trade ensure that Kerry customers get exactly what they are paying for, Listowel butcher Brendan O'Mahony told The Kerryman.

Meanwhile, Kerry people are turning in their droves to the smaller outfits since the horsemeat scandal broke last week. It emerged that some burgers may have been comprised of up to 29 per cent horse meat.

Like pubs and off-licences, butchers have taken a hammering from the supermarkets' spening power which allows the massive retailers to sell items small operators simply can't compete with. However, in the case of butchers it would now appear that the smaller operators are held to much more exacting standards.

"We put signs up every week telling our customers exactly where our meat comes from," Mr O'Mahony told The Kerryman. "Our beef is from Killorglin and comes direct from the farm and the process of preparing it for burgers is very clean and straighforward. It's 100 per cent beef. Indeed, we have a great trade in burgers selling roughly 1,000 each week," he added.

As one who has worked in the meat industry for over 20 years, Mr O'Mahony cannot understand how horse meat came to be found in supermarket burgers. "It's extremely unusual but it would seem that somebody, somewhere was cutting corners. I'm sure the authorities will get to the bottom of it, but there had better be stronger standards for supermarkets.

"Our standards are exacting. We fill out our books each day as do our suppliers and we're inspected on a monthly basis, when an inspector goes through all our books. It's all about traceability in the event of a problem, but in over 20 years here we've never had one issue.

"It looks bad for the supermarkets, but at least people know what meat they're getting from a local butcher and butchers in Kerry in general are seeing an increase since the story came out."

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