ROY Beggs Snr and Jnr have both issued calls for public support of “trusted local butchers” in the wake of the discovery of horse meat in various processed meat products in recent weeks.
The Ulster Unionist politicians urged customers that they could be assured of the origins of locally produced meat.
Assemblyman Roy Beggs Jnr, speaking during a briefing given to the Stormont health committee on the health implications of the horse meat scandal by officials from the Food Standards Agency, said: “Northern Ireland has a very high level of traceability, perhaps the highest in the world.
“However, rogue traders and processors, whether in Europe or elsewhere, have put a bit of doubt in some minds, at a cost to legitimate businesses.
“One of the ways of reducing risk factors is to keep the food chain as short as possible and that, to a degree, means buying from a trusted local butcher.
“With local butchers, you can get full traceability all the way back to the couple of fields in which the animals were reared.
“In the catering trade, we are also driving up standards with Scores On The Doors. There seems to be a huge gap in between, particularly with factory-processed minced meat, burgers and convenience foods.”
During the question-and answer-session, Mr Beggs secured an admission that unlike in the rest of the UK, the FSA had carried out no genetic testing of meat in Northern Ireland in the past year.
Meanwhile, Ald Roy Beggs Snr stated that butchers supplying Farm Quality Assured beef, lamb and pork deserve the support of residents throughout the Larne borough.
The veteran councillor said: “Farmers go to a lot of expense to get Farm Quality Assured status. For cheap, foreign produce to be mislabelled is extremely frustrating for farmers who are very proud of what they produce and they deserve more recognition for what they do.”
Ald Beggs, who is also a farmer, added that butchers’ livelihoods are dependant “on the trust developed through good service and quality produce”.
He urged: “Support your local butcher and you will be supporting local jobs in town and country and at the same time providing your family with the best possible meat products.”