One of my customers has stopped buying chicken liver pâté because she has heard there is now an increased risk of food poisoning. Is she right? KTS



Chicken liver pâté is perfectly safe to eat provided all the ingredients are properly handled and prepared, and the pâté is properly stored. Your customer must have picked up on a simple reminder issued to caterers by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) late last year to cook chicken livers properly. The focus of its comments was directed at caterers, rather than butchers or supermarkets, following data provided by the Health Protection Agency showing that 11 of the 15 outbreaks of campylobacter recorded in 2010 at catering premises, such as restaurants and hotels, were linked to eating poultry liver parfait or pâté. This is a substantial increase on previous years, and must have been what your customer heard or read about.


All types of offal, including livers and kidneys, should be handled hygienically to avoid cross-contamination and cooked thoroughly until they are steaming hot all the way through. The centres should reach a temperature of 70°C for two minutes, or the equivalent time and temperature. The equivalent recommended heat treatments are: 65°C for 10 minutes, 70°C for two minutes, 75°C for 30 seconds or 80°C for six seconds. The FSA said that the reduction of human food- borne disease and, in particular, tackling campylobacter infections acquired from chicken, is a key priority for the next five years.



Does Bpex provide any marketing material for rare breed pork? DH



No. Your best bet is to contact the Traditional Breeds Meat Marketing Company (TBMMC) in Cirencester. The Rare Breeds Survival Trust set up the original marketing scheme that is now run by the TBMMC. It has some 40 accredited butcher members. There is a one-off cost of Ł400 to join and, in return, you will get point-of-sale marketing material, certificates to display in your shop, a listing on its website and introductions to sources of livestock supply that are local to your business.


There is nothing for butchers to pay after the initial joining fee, because the scheme is also funded by a levy paid by the producer on every rare breed animal slaughtered for its meat. The TBMMC says it is becoming increasingly difficult to find new members that have the necessary skills to correctly butcher rare breed animals, because so many traders these days only deal with boxed meat rather than carcases. The skill comes in maximising the relatively low meat yield from breeds that traditionally have poor conformation compared to the usual types of meat sold by butchers.


While the yield can be low, the taste from a properly hung and butchered animal can be delicious. The relative scarcity of rare breed meat also means it can be sold at a premium, and being a stockist can be a unique selling point for your business. It is an irony that one of the main ways of ensuring the survival of rare breeds is to increase demand for their meat via the butcher. Currently there are about eight pig, 15 cattle and 30 sheep breeds that are classified as rare.



I have been trying to get in touch with Meat South West, but the Contact Us link on their website is broken. Who do I contact? TS



There have been some recent changes at Meat South West, including a new administrator and chairman. Selma Todd, who works in the Eblex office in Taunton, Somerset now runs the secretariat. She can be contacted via Meat South West aims to aid communication between all sectors of the industry in the south west of England.



I have a lovely portrait of my great grandfather in his butcher's outfit. I'd like to get my own portrait done in a similar style. Where can I find a proper artist to do this. WTB



Artists' styles vary enormously. The Royal Society of Portrait Painters has a commissioning service to help you select the right artist at the right price. Its website will give you a good idea of the various styles and prices.

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