'I think twice about what I buy after horse meat scandal'
Swansea shoppers are taking a closer look at the meat on their plate in the wake of the horse meat scandal. KATE CLARKE reports.
TUCKING into a shepherd's pie used to be one of life's uncomplicated pleasures, didn't it?
Laden with school dinners nostalgia, as well as with thick, savoury gravy, it wasn't something you really gave too much though to really.
But yet another food rumpus has made the act of eating a meal a whole lot more complicated and concerning. The news that we might all have been unwittingly eating a forkful or two of mare with our mince has sent supermarket bosses and restaurant owners scurrying in haste to their PR departments, and it has sent many shoppers back into the arms of their traditional family butcher.
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Some 12 per cent of people now say their supermarket shopping spend has changed.
Sixty six-year-old mum Jane Wyer, from West Cross, is one of those who has adjusted her shopping habits since some of the supermarket chains have been forced to admit they have been unknowingly selling ready meals tainted with horse DNA.
She says: "I have stopped buying ready meals and I won't be buying them again in the near future.
"Even the fresh mince has made me think twice."
With some restaurants implicated in the affair she has been eating out less often as well, she says.
"Even going out for Sunday lunch does make you worry, is it horse?
"It has definitely made me shop differently. I am buying more salmon and chicken."
Jane is far from alone.
Latest figures show that frozen burger sales have dropped by 43 per cent since evidence of horse meat contamination first emerged, and supermarket shoppers are abandoning the frozen food aisles.
Frozen ready meals have been given the cold shoulder to the tune of 13 per cent since traces of horse DNA were first found in products in January.
Some mince-based, value range ready meals have been found to be 100 per cent horse and even non-vegetarians are developing a taste for Quorn.
Having said that, more than half of Britons surveyed by comparison website moneysupermarket.com said they would actually try horse meat if it was properly labelled, so we are not being unduly squeamish eaters, it seems.
Though Jane would balk at that, she says.
"I wouldn't try horse, no. I am an animal lover. I know it sounds stupid, because we eat cows and lambs, but no, eating horse would be like eating a cat or dog for me.
"And I do worry about how this is going to be solved. They can't test everything from now on, can they?"
Ipsos Mori carried out a similar poll to the Moneysupermarket one and their spokesman, Stephen Yap, says shoppers are nervy.
"Our findings clearly show that the news of horse meat entering the food supply is having a profound impact on British consumers and has eroded trust in food suppliers," he adds.
"As the scandal deepens and new instances of horse meat contamination are uncovered on an almost daily basis, regulators and the food industry must work quickly and take decisive steps to restore consumer confidence that could be damaged for a long time to come."
Peter Marks, the Co-Op's chief executive, says though so far only two lines of their frozen beef burgers have been found to contain horse meat, independent testing would continue and: "We are far from complacent about a matter which has clearly shaken customer confidence in the food you eat.
"We will do all we can to reinforce the integrity of our products and the trust we have spent generations building up."
Shopper Christine Terry, 39, from Gendros in Swansea, who I meet up with outside one of Swansea's bigger supermarkets says she now looks far more carefully at ingredient lists on everything she buys.
She adds: "It isn't something "I would have done once upon a time. But these days, I just don't think you can be too careful!"