Foot and mouth has not hit meat consumption and empty shelves are unlikely, say major retailers.

A Tesco spokeswoman told Farmers Weekly that newspaper reports today (Wednesday) it was running out of meat were untrue.

Shortfall

She also denied that any contingency plans were in place to import South American beef to make up any shortfall.

About 95% of Tesco’s beef was sourced from British farmers, she said.

Slaughtering go ahead

If, as expected, abattoirs in England followed Scotland and received the go ahead to start slaughtering again later this week this would remain the case, she said.

“It would take weeks to get meat from South America,” she added.

Sales had risen

Waitrose said there had been no impact on meat sales. The store said its customers understood foot and mouth had no implications for human health.

Dominic Burch at Asda said red meat sales had actually risen over the weekend due to the sunny weather.

Supplies running low

However, some butchers supplied by smaller abattoirs said supplies were running low.

James Curson, of Howard’s Butchers and Abattoir, Norfolk, said the abattoir usually processed a minimum of 77 animals each week and was using stores of maturing meat to partly stock the butchers shop.

‘Gone without’

“But we also supply to a lot of local butchers who have had to go without over the past couple of days,” he said.

“Customers don’t understand that because the outbreak happened so far away that it can affect us.

“They will go elsewhere for the meat, such as Tesco, where there will be ample stocks. It’s quite a worry we could lose business.”

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