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News Section Icon Published 16/12/2009

The Connaught Hotel admits confusion over Dutch veal

Compassion in World Farming believe it's better for the farmer and calf welfare to choose British veal but, how easy is it to tell what's available in our restaurants?

Compassion carried out undercover investigations to reveal where top hotels and restaurants source their veal. We found that double Michelin-starred chef Hélène Darroze of the Espelette restaurant at The Connaught hotel served Dutch veal while waiters claimed the meat was British.

When Compassion visited the Connaught hotel they found milk-fed veal carpaccio on the menu for £16 and two waiters there told our mystery diner that the veal was British.

Our investigators spoke to the high-end butcher Allens of Mayfair, who supply the Connaught hotel's restaurants. Allen's veal, at that time was 'all Dutch milk-fed veal'. "We can supply rosé veal which is British, but the standard one we stock is Dutch - which is what we supply the Connaught" Allens told The London Evening Standard.

The Connaught has since confirmed that the veal from Allens the butcher is, in fact, Dutch and that their waiters were 'wrong' to call it British.

Compassion's welfare experts say 'milk-fed' veal denotes insufficient fibre, grass or roughage, in the calf's diet. A Dutch veal calf is likely to have less space than its British equivalent while typically living on only slatted floors rather than benefiting from bedding, which is compulsory in the UK. British veal can therefore be considered to be reared to a higher welfare standard than Dutch veal.

Phil Brooke Compassion in World Farming's Welfare Development Manager says, "The majority of veal calves reared in The Netherlands live on barren, slatted floors with a complete lack of bedding. We found more than a quarter of the British public eats veal [YouGov 2008]. By restaurants and diners buying only British veal they can ensure better steps to higher welfare for these young animals which would offer an alternative to live exports or shooting at birth of male dairy calves."

The Evening Standard reported that The Connaught, who has since taken veal off the menu, explained: "There were some training issues within the team that meant the provenance of the veal had not been properly explained to them."

Joyce D'Silva, Director of Public Affairs at Compassion in World Farming said: "It is scandalous that some British hotels and restaurants are still importing veal, when British farmers are raising their calves to a higher welfare standard and need to find markets for their product. Shame on The Connaught for misinformation and their poor sourcing policy. Compassion in World Farming encourages all restaurateurs to serve only high welfare meat, dairy and egg products."

Compassion in World Farming believe restaurants have a responsibility to be clear about their food sourcing in order to empower their customers to make informed choices.

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