Butcher wins prime award
Ulster awarded food champion status in top UK contest
A Co Down butcher has become the first Northern Ireland winner of a prestigious UK food award.
McCartney's of Moira picked up the Northern Ireland Best Speciality Food gong at the Great Taste Awards 2011 and was also named the UK Supreme Food Champion - the first time the award has gone to Northern Ireland.
Both prizes were judged on the company's handmade corned beef and the wins were announced on Monday night at a gala banquet in London hosted by the UK Guild of Fine Food.
McCartney's reached the final stage following its achievement of three gold stars in a list of first stage winners announced in July. Its corned beef came top of 42 food products from the UK and Ireland which subsequently reached the final judging stage.
Judith Millar, a partner at McCartney's said the awards "really change things" for the company.
"McCartney's has a high profile for sausages and we've won pretty much every sausage competition going, but this competition covered all types of food, so it means even more," she said.
"We beat 7,500 other products to win the UK Supreme Champion Award, so these awards were on a much bigger scale.
"It really increases our brand awareness - anyone who's into food focuses on these awards."
Enterprise minister Arlene Foster congratulated the company on its success.
"It is a marvellous achievement by McCartney's to bring the Supreme Champion title to Northern Ireland for the first time in the history of the UK Great Taste Awards," she said.
McCartney's was chosen as the Northern Ireland regional Best Speciality Food winner from a group that included four other local companies, all of which achieved three-star status in July: Alfie Murray Family Butchers, Killyleagh; Ann's Pantry, Belfast; Dale Farm Dairies, Belfast, and Hannan Meats, Moira.