One of the Westcountry’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.
Now Gerald David and Family have been left to contemplate the damage the illegal activities have done to the company’s reputation.
© Richard Austin 2000 NEW BUTCHERS OPENS IN TAUNTON…. OWNER GERALD DAVID IN A PATRIOTIC MOOD WITH HIS ALL BRITISH MEAT…. Richard Austin News Pictures
The company, a member of regional food marketing group Taste of the West, 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 Newton Abbot.
The Davids have always championed Westcountry 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, said the case sent out a clear message about the importance of accurate food labelling.
“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,” he said.
And Trading Standards team manager Andy Fowler said: “Trading Standards officers have a crucial role to play in protecting consumers from misleading labelling.”
The company was contacted by the Western Morning News yesterday but politely declined to comment.