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London’s ‘Irish Butcher’ Gets Sacked From Selfridges

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SelfridgesJust a week after claiming another victim in the fast food chain, McDonald’s, public activism has turned its attention to the controversial gourmet dish, foie gras. This time, under immense public pressure, Selfridges, the reputed London store, has sacked London’s Irish butcher and major supplier, Jack O’Shea who  is a high-end butcher-shop owner, running a stall at the Selfridges department store in London. The decision has resulted in him shutting shop  soon  after it was discovered in December last year that he was selling foie gras to his customers under the counter, using a codename. 


1) Foie Gras Controversy


It has been quite some time since foie gras began to be looked down upon by conscience-keepers in the public domain because of the inhuman way in which the ducks and geese are treated for its production. Selfridges has already  banned the sale of foie gras three years ago after a severe campaign led by former James Bond Sir Roger Moore. Continuing its policy against foie gras, the store announced that it was done trading with O’Shea, who provides its supplies.


2) Not the Only Culprit


It is not just O’Shea but other UK retailers as well who are known to stock the foie gras. In case of O’Shea, the customers interested in purchasing this banned item, used to ask for “French fillet”, without anyone being any wiser. The “French fillet” packets were being sold for £39.40.


3) The Undercover Operation Foie Gras


It was an undercover operation that brought the whole thing to light. Earlier, during Christmas 2011, a Selfridges’ staff member admitted that they used to get foie gras around the Christmas time. On Christmas eve, O’Shea was led out of the shop in front of his customers, many among whom accused the butcher of a “shocking betrayal.” Although, the incident came to light around Christmas last year, the store had been working with the butcher to resolve the issue for about two months before that. Even after facing humiliation, O’Shea was unrepentant as he said, “I will probably lose my business over it but I couldn’t give a damn. My conscience is clear. Stuffing a goose with grain is like stuffing me with Guinness. It has been totally blown out of proportion.”


4) The Risks


Selling foie gras clandestinely has its own set of risks, which has the public health advocates as well as the London store fuming. These risks include, “Cross-contamination between raw and cooked meat, issues around labeling and sell-by dates, inconsistent and failing food handling procedures, and failing housekeeping standards.”


5) Selfridges is Regretting


On its part, Selfridges is remorseful that it had to severe all ties with O’Shea but it continues to maintain its tough stand. Selfridges’ Director of Food & Restaurants, Ewan Venters, said, “It is regrettable that we ahd to aprt company with Jack O’Shea. But if anyone puts the store’s five-star health rating in jeopardy, they can no longer be part of our business – it is as simple as that.”


6) The Other Side


As always, this story has another side too, that of the supporters of O’Shea, who believe that the butcher is being targeted unnecessarily. One such supporter even wrote in the butcher’s favor as he said, “In Brussels, where O’Shea owns another shop, many of the women in the EU Raj – by which I mean, wives of diplomats, eurocrats, the whole lot of non-Belgians who live in the EU bubble – recommended to me straightaway that I use ‘the Irish butcher” (indicating O’Shea’s Irish lineage). They all went to his shop.” On his part, O’Shea is repentant as usual as he continues to drop names like celebrity chefs Richard Corrigan and Heston Blumenthal as his customers.


Is it good or bad to eat foie gras remains the eternal question but what about a person’s right to eat it or not to eat it. The readers can have their say on this issue and put in their comments. For now, you can watch O’Shea explain how to make a beef tartare and you will know that the man knew his job well. Now, if only he also knew how to follow the law of land.


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London’s ‘Irish Butcher’ Gets Sacked From Selfridges