One of the West Country’s best-known butchers has been ordered to pay fines and penalties of £15,000 for passing off beef and lamb from the Midlands as local.If you go to Ludlow market on the Welsh borders any Monday you will see Davies and his son in action buying around 40 cattle and couple of hundred sheep for the weekly meat supply of their shops.
It is rumoured around the Devon cattle markets that the family butcher is not the best at paying his bills on time and gets a special credit facility in Ludlow. This saw them lease a 4 deck cattle lorry and they can place the full weeks livestock supply in one truck and haul 200 miles to their abattoir.
However the butcher still uses the west country meat brand which could be constued as misleading his local customers. Perhaps this is more serious today when everyone is looking to buy local and animal welfare organizations are against long journeys for livestock.
But now Gerald David and Family have been left to contemplate the damage the illegal activities have done to the company’s reputation.
Butcher Gerald David runs shops in Minehead, Taunton, and Dulverton, with other outlets at Darts Farm, Topsham, Puxton Park near Weston-superMare, Ivybridge, and Fermoys Garden Centre, near Totnes
The company has admitted six counts of mis-labelling meat from animals bought at auction in Shropshire after a lengthy investigation by Somerset Trading Standards.
Mr David and his wife Jenny run shops in Minehead, Taunton, and Dulverton, with other outlets at Darts Farm, Topsham, Puxton Park near Weston-super-Mare, Ivybridge, and Fermoys Garden Centre, near Totnes.
The company is a member of Taste of the West, the regional food marketing group, and Mr David’s sons Alistair and Philip also operate a mobile sales unit, which appears at major shows including the Royal Bath and West and Devon County Show.
The Davids have always championed West Country meat, with their shops, vehicles and website using images of sheep and cattle grazing on Exmoor.
But in fact, Bridgwater magistrates were told, that was misleading: some of the “Devon beef” and “Exmoor lamb” came from animals which had been bought in Shropshire and merely transferred to the family’s abattoir in Porlock.
The investigation traced the movements of more than 600 cows killed at the Porlock abattoir over six months and involved 1,600 pages of exhibits, and nearly 70 witness statements.
The company was fined £3,000 and ordered to pay £12,000 more in costs.
Somerset County Council’s cabinet member responsible for Trading Standards, councillor David Hall, praised the officers after the hearing.
“This concludes a detailed and professional investigation and I am pleased that it sends a clear message about the importance of accurate food labelling,” he said.
“Many people take into consideration the origin of food that they buy, particularly meat. Anyone buying beef and lamb from these two shops would not have had any suspicions that the labelling may be false and painting an entirely different picture to reality.”
And Trading Standards team manager Andy Fowler said: “Trading Standards officers have a crucial role to play in protecting consumers from misleading labelling.”
Gerald David set up as an independent butcher in Minehead in the early 1970s. The enterprise grew rapidly to comprise seven outlets across the South West, plus the Porlock abattoir.