Stedman, Ronald (17 of 32). Food: From Source to Salespoint

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  • Subjects

    Meat industry

  • Recording date

    1999-09-08, 1999-09-30, 1999-10-28, 1999-11-17, 2000-04-20

  • Recording locations

    Interviewee's home and Butchers' Hall, London

  • Interviewees

    Stedman, Ronald, 1917-2009 (speaker, male)

  • Interviewers

    Courtney, Cathy (speaker, female)

  • Abstract

    Part 17: Tape 9 Side A: Cakes made with paraffin during WW2, ‘cut and go again cake’. Healthier diet in the War, although little fruit. Overview of development of turkey market in Britain. Eviscerated turkey - ie frozen supermarket bird tasted as good as fresh turkey. Bernard Matthews, a Prudential insurance agent responsible for changing turkey market. Turkey conference at Eastbourne soon after WW2. Beginning of BM’s turkey empire. BM bought manor house in Norfolk to use as a turkey hutch, details, now biggest man in turkey world. BM produces millions of turkeys, including for Europe; is also in prepared meat business, selling in packets. Anecdote about BM at Butchers’ Hall. Development of frozen turkey business. Battery farming began after the War, in early 1950s, when English farming put on a ‘belt system’ as the Ford car had been after WW1. Trade was against battery farming but not because of the distress of the birds. Details of horrible scenes RS has seen in European slaughterhouses. Kosher food requires animal’s throat to be cut, description of how this is done. New Zealand slaughterhouses. Slaughterhouses in Britain - RS bought shops which had sheds at the back where animals were slaughtered. Lack of hygiene in shop slaughterhouses until the beginning of WW2 when legislation demanded higher standards, details. Further details of turkey industry. Birds are fattened more now. ‘Caponising’ of hens. Pill was invented which was inserted with a gun behind the ear of the bird which changed its hormones and encouraged eating and putting on of fat. RS sold caponised hens, later caponised fowl. Appearance of the birds changed. No immediate worry about these processes, this came afterwards. In retrospect trade should have perhaps been more worried about this intervention; RS’s attitude would be different now. Changes in the size of turkeys and way in which they are presented to customers. Removal of internal organs; this would in the past have been done by housewives. Birds couldn’t be frozen with internal organs; same basis as Egyptian mummies.

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