Barely an hour after eating a Lamb chop I was on the floor in agony. I thought it might be gas and, usually, a couple of sit ups and a bit of light exercise would relieve it but this time it didn’t and I mereley ended up on the floor, wondering what is going on. I’ve had gas before… The first time was on a night out during my first year of university and I had to cut the evening short because of it. This is similar but I get the impression, when the sit ups don’t work, that this is something worse than gas. Also, a regular gas attack (for me) is higher up than this. This is right in the pit of my stomach, which isn’t normal. I begin to feel ill, like I’m about to vomit and then I know that it is worse than gas. This is serious… This is food poisoning.

‘Was the lamb cooked properly?’ I hear you ask. Yes! It was a small chop and so twenty minutes in a hot oven was all it needed… You can eat Lamb chops rare and bloody in the middle provided the outside is cooked, and I would say this was at least medium done. There was no blood in the middle. ‘What about everything else you had with the lamb?’ Apricots and mushrooms (It was a simple meal)- And it wasn’t them. They both came from a packet and I was absolutely fine with eating them. I didn’t finish the mushrooms off that day and when I did finish them off I didn’t suffer any serious relapse. And the apricots were the same… I finished them off later, I was fine. They were perfectly good apricots. It was the lamb that did it.

Look at him… He’s just waiting to give someone food posioning! (Picture Courtesy of Wikimedia)

And although the gaseous feeling subsides after a couple of hours I still feel out of sorts for several days. Then I really know that it’s food poisoning. I have had this before, like the gas, and it isn’t pleasant. The last time I had it was with chicken. In the space of a few months I cooked two separate chicken fillets in two separate ways- One was in a casserole and the other was southern fried. And after both of them came food poisoning. Chicken is essentially the Doctor Evil of food poisoning, it consumes e-coli, salmonella and other bacteria like a sponge, and at the time I stopped I thought that it might be a result of the butcher I was buying it from. So I checked the food standards agency website and the result came back as a four out of five. Not brilliant but acceptable. I thought that it must just be the chicken and I assumed it was at least safe to eat the other meat as I felt fine after eating it. I didn’t have any problems.

That was around eight or nine months ago and I haven’t had any other problems with the meat from there until now. It’s been fine. Then suddenly I eat this lamb chop and I’m on the floor with food poisoning. In the days that follow it leads me, as I struggle through my misery to get some work done, to once again check the food hygiene rating of the place. And in the last month or so they’ve had an inspection… It has dropped. It has dropped down to three out of five. Now that isn’t completely bad. It means the place has problems but, in theory, it shouldn’t be a rat infested pig sty… But it is enough to set alarm bells ringing.

The Food Standards Agency deals on a 0-5 rating. 0 is awful and the place should be avoided at all costs, that is if it hasn’t been shut down. 1-2 are not good and you are better off steering clear where possible. 3 isn’t too awful but it could be better. You should be at least ok with the place. A 4 and 5 you should have no problem with. The FSA website doesn’t give many details about why it deals out a particular rating so it is impossible to know which side a three rated business is on… It might be on the side of a two or a four. The inspectors might just have caught them on a good day or, god forbid, they might have been too easy going on the place. Now as I’ve had food poisoning three times from this butcher my instinct is telling me that it might have been closer to a two than a four.

I could report this to the FSA but after only being inspected in the last few months they probably aren’t liable to go and inspect the place again so soon. The best thing for me to do is to avoid it, avoid eating meat bought there and get it from somewhere else. I could buy off the internet but then I’d have to buy in bulk just to make delivery worthwhile. And it can be expensive even without the delivery charge. I’m not a fan of the idea but I could get it from a supermarket. The downside is that it might not be exactly fresh (it could be untold years old for instance) and could well have traveled upwards of two hundred miles before getting to me, perhaps further And those aren’t the only can of worms hidden down the meat aisle… But that’s another post entirely. I don’t eat meat that often these days any way. I’m currently on once or twice a week, if at all so I could even, and this is wild I know, (sarcasm) go vegetarian for a couple of months until I can get back to Bangor.

Just ewe beware of dodgy butchers! (Courtesy of Wikimedia)

But there, again, lies another small issue. Bangor only has one Butcher’s shop and it is, again, a three on the FSA website. I don’t wish to sound negative but I am especially wary of it because of that score. Not only because of my previous experience but because I anally went through the entire FSA list for the city and most places are high scorers, there are a lot of fives and fours and only 8 threes (with 5 one-twos and 2 zeroes). There is a good looking, five rated butcher in Conwy however. Not that far away but still a way to go just for meat. If I were to use it I would have to buy in bulk, like I would have to with buying online. But at least I wouldn’t have the delivery charge and with eating meat only once or twice a week I could go for a couple of months between visits so it wouldn’t be too bad when you consider it.

There also appears to be a farm shop selling meat about somewhere outside of nearby Porthaethwy (where I might end up living depending on rent costs and what is available at the time) so that could be worth a try… It’s local too, reared and butchered on site. But it is a fair way out of the town by the looks of things so would require either a long walk or a short bus ride (especially if I end up living in Bangor) More feasibly (and I only just found this out as I was writing about the farm shop) Porthaethwy has its own butcher and from pictures I found on street view it looks like a really nice place. It has a five star rating from the FSA (as does the farm shop) and even if I rent a house in Bangor it’s only a short walk away. It might be ideal for me, though I’d have to see.

But that is in the future. That is several months away. For wherever I get meat from when I return home the thing that is clear in the present is that I can’t buy or eat meat from the same place as I have been for the last few years. I’ve had food poisoning from their meat three times now. I can probably be forgiven for thinking it might have just been the chicken (the Dr Evil of Food Poisoning) but now that I’ve also had it from lamb the time has come to give them the finger. The best thing to do is to buy meat elsewhere. In this day and age, when independent shops are a rarity and things likes butcher’s shops and fishmongers are being whittled away by the giants of the supermarkets (I could only find TWO fishmongers in the whole of North Wales… One in Caergybi and one in Llandudno) it is sorrowful to think that one of them can still be capable of low standards when they should all be striving for the best in order to survive. They can’t afford to lose custom by way of inferior food quality. Well this butcher, by his low standards, has lost himself a customer.

Food Standards Agency Ratings Website: http://ratings.food.gov.uk/


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