Organic rules fail butchers
Published:  01 August, 2006

The very concept of organic meat suggests it should be available from all local butchers.

The kind of shopper who looks for organic produce is the kind of customer who wants to buy locally produced meat, locally.

The fact there appears to be layers of costly red tape standing between butchers and that sales opportunity is a sorry state-of-affairs. Not only would I question a ruling that gives a trade organisation, such as the Soil Association, the kind of power to control a category like organic but anything that adds cost and the advantage to the bigger multiples has to be wrong.

Customers come to a butcher for their meat for the very reasons they do not go to the supermarket - they want their meat fresh, prepared in front of them and cut to order, not bagged and wrapped in a factory. Any system which makes it simpler for butchers to stock pre-packed and pre-cut meat is quite frankly wrong and needs reforming.

The BBC documentary alleged nine out of 10 butchers were breaking the law on organics. What worries me about programmes like that is the potential danger for butchers to be perceived as deceiving their customers and passing off non-organic as organic.

While perhaps this may be the case with a small minority, the majority of butchers are supplying properly certified organic meat - they just might not be properly certified to sell it.

That they lack a piece of paper surely does not change the fact the meat has been organically produced.