Foot-and-mouth pushes up prices

27 February 2001
Foot-and-mouth pushes up prices
The outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in Britain has already caused meat prices to soar, say restaurateurs. Some chefs say customers are also ordering less meat because they fear for their health, despite reassurances that foot-and-mouth cannot pass to humans. Don Tait, owner of Oxygen Bar and Grill in Edinburgh, found his bacon prices pushed up by a staggering 40% because of the crisis. Like many restaurateurs, he has decided to reduce portions rather than pass the price increase on to customers - Oxygen's all-day breakfast now contains one bacon rasher instead of two. "I think the general public will panic, because this is yet another food scare for them to cope with," he said. "Our next menu is coming out in the late spring, and we'll be moving away from red meat and including more chicken and vegetarian dishes." Mark Parris, head chef of London restaurant 192, said: "People have watched TV and seen all the pig carcasses being burned, and that scares them." Chez Gérard in London bought bulk supplies of beef when the crisis began, but commercial director Jason Danciger feared that the ban on transporting livestock around the country might cause shortages in some areas. "The whole thing is incredibly worrying," he said. "We're checking with our suppliers on an hourly basis." David Phillips-White, manager of the Hole in the Wall in Bath, was concerned that some restaurants would stop supporting local farmers and switch to using foreign meat. Padrig Jones, chef of Le Gallois bistro in Cardiff, believed successive health scares were knocking consumer confidence. "People are getting very concerned about meat - they just don't believe it's safe," he said. Steve Thornton, owner of Surrey-based outside caterer Blends, said he had received a delivery of meat today (Tuesday) and prices seemed to have risen by about 40%.
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