Butchers expect short-term reaction to ‘vague’ report

‘I don’t think the report has shown anything that hasn’t been known in the past’

Ben Fox butcher at Fays on Thomas Street.Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Ben Fox butcher at Fays on Thomas Street.Photograph: Cyril Byrne


Butchers are bracing for short-term reaction to the “vague” new report linking processed and red meats to cancer but expect no “great effect” to sales.

World Health Organisation (WHO) released research that sausages, bacon and ham were as big a cancer threat as tobacco.

The report also suggested red meat was a likely cause of some cancers.

However, customers still queued in meat shops yesterday to buy sausages, bacon and steak as they discussed the headlines they had heard on the report.

Simon Dunne, from Dunnes Butchers in Dublin’s city centre, told The Irish Times the report was damaging to meat businesses as “it was so vague”.

“I don’t think it’s a very helpful report, a bit vague. It just threw the comments out there,” he said.

Mr Dunne said it was not new information processed meats were not beneficial for your health. “But it will have an impact on meat like sausages and affect small shop sales. The meat industry is very important to the country,” he said.

John O’Reilly, owner of John O’Reilly Butchers in Mount Merrion, Stillorgan said he did not think the report would have any “great effect” on the meat business. “I don’t think the report has shown anything that hasn’t been known in the past,” he said.

“Anyone in this morning jokingly said ‘but sure we know that and we have our habits and we’re not going to change’. It’s everything in moderation.”

Michael Martin, owner of C&N Meats on Meath Street in Dublin, said more details on the report’s findings needed to be released.

“It’s all up in the air at the moment,” he said.

“I’ve sold loads of sausages this morning. But it’s early days yet, we’ll have to see over the next few weeks.”

Mr Martin, who has worked as a butcher since he was 15-years-old, said meats like sausages, bacon and corned beef were a favourite of customers and cheaper to buy.

He said on average he would sell about 40 lbs of sausages a day.

Ben Fox, from Fays Butcher on Thomas Street in Dublin, said the report would probably affect sales for a “day or two”,

“I can’t see it make it making much of a difference. It’ll go on for a day or two and then people will forget about it. I’m not too worried about it really,” he said.

Martin O’Neill, whose shop sells a range of meat, poultry and fish, said the research was part of the “normal circle of things that go around”.

“The worry around this report will come and go, it happens all the time. I’m long enough around to remember lots of reports,” he said.

Mr O’Neill, who owns O’Neill’s Butchers in Dublin, said if people started to eat more fish following the report’s results that was a “good thing”.

“People have started to eat more fish now than ever before. It used to only sell on a Wednesday and Friday, for religious reasons, but now it even sells well on a Saturday,” he said.

One customer, who was buying chicken, said he was glad to hear of the new research from the report.

“We’re getting an education now we never had from years and years ago. It’s good to have this information to make choices.”

Breda Duggan, owner of The Food Lovers Den in Leopardstown, south Dublin, said she welcomed the report.

“It should have come out years ago. I’m delighted that somebody has recognised the dangers of processed meats,” she said.

“All these preservatives bound to have side effects. We will not sell processed meats in our delicatessesen.”

Ms Duggan, who has worked in food catering for 28 years, said she believed the report would not have a negative effect on her business.

“If anything improve our business. It will make people more aware and to look at the ingredients and where food comes from,” she said.