WORRIED shoppers in Sheffield are shunning major supermarkets and ready meals - and supporting family butchers - as the horsemeat scandal continues.
Staff at food stores said customers are turning away from frozen foodstuffs in their droves as the first tests ordered by the Food Standards Agency yesterday found horse DNA in various different meals.
Shoppers’ habits have already changed so much that workers at one city store are considering throwing away some foods they cannot sell.
And the meals contractor which supplies most Sheffield schools has suspended the use of all processed meat products in all school dinners ‘as a precaution’.
Donna Hefferan, manager of Kiran’s Convenience Grocers on the Manor, said: “Since this came out I have not sold one pack of beefburgers, and we only stock Bird’s Eye.
“The older generation who buy their frozen ready meals, they won’t buy Findus at all, they are throwing all theirs away and saying it is not safe. Our sales have gone down.
“One supplier has said they will reimburse me or give us a credit note if I throw our stock in the bin.
“It affects us badly because we’re only a small shop. We don’t sell that many ready meals anyway, and the few we did we’ll have to throw.”
But butchers across the city have seen a rise in shopper numbers since the scandal broke.
They say customers are fearful of being misled by supermarkets and big-name suppliers, and are choosing to buy fresh meat locally instead.
Chris Beech, of Chris Beech Quality Meats on South Road, Walkley, said: “I have seen some new customers who are totally avoiding supermarkets now because they’ve been frightened.
“Our burger sales are up 100 per cent.”
John Crawshaw, who has butcher’s shops in Hillsborough, Chapeltown and Stocksbridge, has also seen an influx of custom.
“We’ve certainly seen an increase in trade and had some nice comments from people saying they know they can rely on us for quality,” he said.
“It’s bad news for the meat industry because it puts people off - but probably good news for our niche market.”
Shopper Lynn Carnall said on The Star’s Facebook page: “It’s made me think about what is in mince and even in sausages.
“I’m going back to my local butchers, even if it’s more expensive than the supermarket.
“At least I know he makes his own sausages and that his meat is safe.”