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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Scare Spurs Shoppers, Vegetarians

LONDON -- Britons who are afraid to eat beef because of mad cow disease are flooding the Vegetarian Society with calls. Those who aren't are flooding into supermarkets to buy it at cut price.

The London-based Vegetarian Society, an independent consumers group which advises on what to eat in place of meat, normally gets up to 200 calls a day from people who want stop eating animals. They think it will be better for their health or disapprove of the way animals are treated under modern factory-farming methods.

But since the start of the beef scare the society says the number of calls has doubled. "The mad cow scare was the last straw for many people," spokesman Steve Connor said Monday. "The past week has been frantic. At times all eight telephone lines have been completely blocked."

Haldane Foods Ltd., one of Britain's leading manufacturers of meat-free products, also reported a sharp rise in interest.

"I have been in the food business 20 years and I have never seen anything like this," said spokesman Graham Keen. "Vege-Mince is our best-selling product and in the first three days of last week we took the same volume of orders that we recorded for the whole of February."

Meanwhile, thousands of people unworried by the scare have been flooding into supermarkets to buy beef at cut price.

J. Sainsbury PLC, one of Britain's two biggest supermarket chains, said that on Saturday all its 363 stores around the country sold out of fresh beef when it slashed the price to reduce stocks.

Sainsbury cut the price of half a kilogram of best sirloin steak from ?5.29 ($8) to ?2.64 pounds and half a kilogram of stewing steak from ?2.06 to ?1.03.

Bob Cooper, the company's trading director, reported Saturday: "Over the last 12 hours we have sold more British beef than during the whole of the last 12 days combined."

One Sainsbury shopper, Martin Crawley, 51, said: "I have not stopped eating British beef because there is nothing wrong with it."