Buying local is paying dividends in wake of horsemeat scandal
Westcountry food producers – from one of the leading national brands to a growing family firm – have been protected from the horsemeat crisis because of their local sourcing policies.
Supermarkets, schools, hospitals and pub chains across the country have been hit by the scandal which has seen dozens of meals removed from sale after they were found to be contaminated by horsemeat.
But one of the region's biggest firms and leading pasty exporter to the rest of the UK – Callington-based Ginsters – has seen its policy of buying locally pay dividends.
"In light of recent media scrutiny of what we as a nation are eating, Ginsters takes pride in the fact that we only ever use British beef, pork and chicken in our products, purchasing quality cuts of meat that we prepare ourselves in our on-site bakery," a spokesman for the firm told the Western Morning News.
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"Ginsters is committed to sourcing ingredients as locally as possible, building long-term partnerships with farmers and suppliers who share our quality focus.
"Over 70% of our beef comes from the Westcountry and we use over 100 tonnes of fresh local vegetables every week in our pasties. By doing this we can ensure we have the highest standards of freshness, consistency and quality.
"We routinely audit all of our suppliers and have a comprehensive testing regime to ensure that all ingredients we use meet our exacting standards.
"Following the recent coverage we have now carried out additional testing in line with Food Standards Agency instructions and all tests completed have confirmed that all the beef used in our products is in line with our high specifications."
At the other end of the scale is the Kernow Sausage Company, a small but growing business which is based at Tregony on Cornwall's Roseland Peninsula.
Producing hand-made sausages, bacon, gammon and hog's pudding using pork from pigs raised on the family farm, it was established by Gavin Roberts just five years ago.
Mr Roberts, who worked for larger commercial meat suppliers before setting up his business, said: "I have not been surprised at all. I don't think the control over supplies is there to the extent it should be. We are using prime cuts of meat from our own animals which are all butchered here on site, so we have a lot of control over exactly what goes into our produce.
"But when you get to the bigger side of the industry, there isn't that level of knowledge or skill. Meat is being delivered in vacuum packs and boxes and handled by people who have very little, if any, butchery knowledge whatsoever."
Mr Roberts said he took pride in being able to tell exacting customers where their produce came from and believes all other suppliers should be able to do likewise.
"There was an initial knee-jerk worry that people would stop buying products," Mr Roberts added. "But what we have seen is an increase in sales for the littler retailers which is a great thing.
"The consumer had every right to ask questions and producers and suppliers have the responsibility to be able to answer and have systems in place to demonstrate their transparency."