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Horsemeat scandal also hit Cheltenham in 1981

By Gloucestershire Echo  |  Posted: February 20, 2013

By MICHAEL PURTON

  • clear memory: Monica Hunt at her home in Cheltenham

  • read it: The Echo's story in 1981

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SHOCKING revelations of horsemeat being found in beef products may have rocked the nation, but this is not the first time the scandal has hit Cheltenham.

In 1981, a Bristol-based trader was fined £300 after supplying beef containing 25 per cent horsemeat which ended up at a butcher's shop in Cheltenham.

Eric Waltham, who ran the EC Waltham shop in Suffolk Parade, raised the alarm when his wife Hildegard found an odd-shaped kidney while they were unpacking a delivery of what they believed was 100 per cent beef.

He immediately contacted the supplier and when tests were carried out, the meat was found to be 75 per cent beef and 25 per cent horse flesh.

Fortunately, the consignment of meat was not consumed by the public.

The initial supplier, Gianfranco Coletto, who was trading as Bristol Meat Trader, of Whitby Road in Bristol, was fined when he appeared at Cheltenham Magistrates' Court on March 26, 1981.

At the time, the magistrates were told the meat had been ordered by Thomas Cunneen, who owned a shop in Tewkesbury High Street.

Mr Cunneen took delivery of the meat from Coletto, and then supplied it to FMC Meats Ltd of Gloucester Road, Cheltenham. FMC then supplied it to Mr Waltham. Mr Cunneen told the court he had no idea the beef contained horsemeat.

Mr Waltham died in 1991, aged 72, but his daughter Monica Hunt still clearly remembers the scandal around the discovery of the horsemeat.

Mum Monica, who now lives in Charlton Kings, was in her late 20s at the time of the incident.

"I remember them telling me about what they had found and my mum said we had to report it," she said. "They did not think it would become such a big thing, but it got to the local papers and was in the national papers.

"The horsemeat did not cause any lasting problems for my father's shop because it was an advert for his shop and showed he had integrity by reporting it."

Supermarkets and shops across the country have withdrawn beef products following the discovery that some beef products contained traces of horsemeat.

Monica said: "I thought it was hilarious when the latest horsemeat scandal broke because I'm sure it has happened lots of times in the past but nobody has noticed.

"There are no health implications whatsoever from eating horsemeat. It's amazing that people have only stopped eating processed food now because of the horsemeat scandal, after they have been warned it is unhealthy for years."

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