27 February 1998

Beefeater challenge

By Shelley Wright

EAST midlands farmers took the Keep Britain Farming campaign to the Beefeater restaurant in Tamworth at the weekend.

Highlighting that much of the beef sold by the chain comes from Argentina, the farmers urged customers to ask what guarantees the firm could give on quality and traceability of imported beef.

Organiser, Philip Abbott, who is chairman of the NFUs South West Leicestershire branch, said he wrote to Beefeaters head office asking the same questions, but was told that it was not company policy to reveal such details.

So, about 50 local farmers decided to protest outside the local restaurant to let the public know that Beefeater, although using British beef in some of its dishes, was still sourcing the equivalent of about 2500 head of cattle from Argentina each week.

Alison Hull, spokeswoman for Beefeater, confirmed the volume of imported beef and said all the Argentinean meat used could be traced back to the ranch of origin. And the foreign abattoirs had been inspected by both Beefeater and EU officials.

She said the firm had been in discussion with the Meat and Livestock Commission for 18 months looking at ways to use more British beef.

But the problem was that Beefeater could not get the quality and consistency of supplies it needed from the British market, she claimed.

But industry experts said: "Supermarkets in the UK lay down their specifications for British meat and they get exactly what they want from their suppliers. So there is absolutely no reason why everyone else, including Beefeater, cant do the same."

said one.

East midlands farmers make their feelings known to Beefeater.