8 December 1995

Figures reveal beef sales fall

BEEF sales fell by 4.8% in the four-week period ending Nov 20, Meat and Livestock Commission figures show.

MLC officials claimed the slump was only partly due to fears of a possible BSE-CJD link. But Mick Sloyan, MLC economic policy adviser, said the poor publicity this week had made consumers think twice about buying beef.

Beef finishers are concerned that continued bad news would lead to a drop in demand at auction markets, he added. Prices for finished steers have fallen by 4p/kg since mid-November. Meanwhile, at least 15 local authorities had by Wednesday either taken beef off school menus or allowed individual schools the opportunity to provide alternative meats.

Arnold Fewell, Local Authority Caterers Association public relations officer, said education auth-orities in Oldham, Humberside, Mid-Glamorgan and Manchester had all taken beef off school menus. Counties such as Surrey and Northumberland have left schools to make their own decisions.

Mr Fewell said there was widespread confusion among school caterers over current policy. "It is time the government got the experts together and produced some clear guidelines for the catering industry." &#42