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If you want to steer clear of horsemeat, keep it local

 Published on: 19th February 2013   |   By: Nik Allen

Following the news that horse lasagne and pony-pie, disguised as beef products, have been sold in British supermarkets shoppers are apparently now saying nay to cheap meat.

I hope this trend continues and when the scandal subsides people don’t revert back to their bad old ways because much good could come out of this saga.

I have long campaigned for shoppers to “keep their pound local”. It makes sense: if you want your village to have a thriving high street and a sense of community you have to support it. What better way to do so than to opt to buy your meat from a butcher’s shop instead of an out-of-town supermarket?

Most local butchers make their own burgers and sausages on site, and can tell you exactly where their meat comes from (if they can’t find one that can).

If you are on a tight budget choose less popular cuts of meat or opt to eat less meat but of a better quality. Maybe you currently eat meat seven nights a week, but could switch to eating it just four or five times a week instead. It may not be a popular message – pay more and get less, but we need to wake up to some cold hard truths.

While there is room for some economising, essentially you get what you pay for. If you are buying 46 sausages or a family-sized lasagne for £2 ask yourself: how is this product created at such a low price?

Why is it we are prepared to spend increasing amounts on our mobile phones, I-pads and plasma television screens, but happily shovel cheap meals of dubious provenance down our children’s throats?

I know many people face a struggle each week to make ends meet, but with a little bit of imaginative thinking it is possible to avoid the kind of cheap stuff that has been shown to contain horse.

The Government also has to step up to the mark and make some tough decisions too. Of course, tighter regulation is needed. But the Government’s responsibilities run far deeper than this. It needs to make a commitment to feeding good food to the young and the sick.

Schools and hospitals are under huge budget pressures at the moment, and the Government needs to find some way to support the ones who deliver good quality food – and not turn a blind eye to institutions who serve up slop.

It also needs to reconsider some of its own cost-cutting choices. The Children’s Food Trust, which monitors the nutritional standards of school dinners and was created in the wake of Jamie Oliver’s campaigning to improve school meals, will lose all its government funding at the end of this month.

That’s right the plug has effectively been pulled on the charity which provides an annual report card on the quality of school dinners, and interestingly highlighted the fact that academies do not have to adhere to the same strict nutritional guidelines as other schools. Food for thought.

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