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Butchers best in the land.

Byline: By Jennifer MacKenzie

North-East family butchers have proved they are a cut above by taking top honours in the industry-leading Guild of Q Butchers biennial Smithfield Awards product evaluation event.

R Turnbull & Sons, of Alnwick, came away with a five-strong haul of honours, all but one of them top-rated gold medals, while H Coates & Son, which has shops in Framwellgate Moor, Coxhoe and Trimdon, came away with an 11-strong haul of honours, five of them top-rated gold medals.

The awards, sponsored by EBLEX, the English Beef and Lamb Executive, are among the most prestigious in the meat industry, with products subjected to detailed assessment and sampling by a panel of independent judges.

Over 350 products were entered by Q butchers across the country for the evaluation. R Turnbull & Sons' four gold awards were for the Market Street shop's traditional pork sausage, beef burger, chicken and leek pie and chicken Dijon.

The achievement represented an all-round team success, with the gold award-winning products made by John Turnbull, apprentice Lee Curry, David Dixon and Deborah Willis. In addition, Turnbull's won a silver award for its pork and mustard roast, prepared by Mark Turnbull.

Over the years, the business has received many accolades in meat trade competitions. Only last month, the firm scooped five product evaluation gold awards and an overall category win in the 2004 British Pig Executive (BPEX) Awards for Excellence.

Butcher Mark Turnbull said: "From what we have heard, the standard of product was even higher than that of two years ago, so to win any award is a great achievement. Within the Guild of Q Butchers there is a wealth of imagination, innovation and supreme quality and we are proud to be members."

R Turnbull & Sons became a member of the Guild of Q Butchers in 1997. It is an association of progressive independent meat retailers who offer top quality meat and meat products, with customer service to match.

H Coates & Son's five gold awards were for the business's traditional pork sausage, Balmoral burgers, family steak pie, beef stroganoff and peppered beef stir fry.

Success did not end there, as Coates Butchers also picked up silver medals for its pork and beef sausage, Cumbrian chicken and lasagne ready-meals, plus bronze honours for Cumberland sausage, traditional beef sausage and minty lamb pie.

Over the years, H Coates & Son has made a tremendous impact with its products in the regional, national and international meat industry competition arenas.

Last month, the business scooped a total of eight product evaluation award wins ( half of them gold medals ( in the 2004 British Pig Executive (BPEX) Awards for Excellence in York. Then, this month, Coates Butchers learned that its Framwellgate Moor shop had, at the first attempt, won through to the finals of the 2004 Meat Trades Journal Top Shop competition, to be held at London's Dorchester Hotel on December 1.

In the same competition Coates' Coxhoe outlet was voted the best butchers shop in the North of England in both 2000 and 2002, the last time the competition was held. The business became member of the Guild of Q Butchers in 1990.

Independent inspections to recognised European standards are carried out at all member shops.

This, combined with traditional skills and knowledge, and a wide range of innovative products, means that Q butchers are among the finest meat retailers in Britain. The Smithfield Awards were judged earlier this month at the Meat and Livestock Commission at Milton Keynes. The panel of judges included representatives from the MLC, Ladies in Pigs, a national group of pig farmers' wives and supporters who do a great deal to showcase and encourage the public to buy British pork products, The Worshipful Company of Butchers, industry supplier Lucas Ingredients and the meat trade press.
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Nov 27, 2004
Words:626
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