Go wild in the pantry with a new hop-pot

The global larder: After its debut in restaurants, marsupial meat may become a staple on the dinner table at home
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It bounded into the menus of the more modern restaurants and gained public acceptability when BSE hit the beef market. Now kangaroo meat is being tested as a daily staple with a supermarket offering it as steaks and burgers.

The first supplies are available at Tesco from now until the end of September. If the meat finds a following, it will become a regular on the shelves from the beginning of next year.

Michael Fletcher, Tesco's speciality meats buyer, said: "Our customers have shown a great interest in speciality meats and we will be offering them a new variety."

Already available in butchers and increasingly popular since the mad cow disease scare deterred beef-eaters, kangaroo is described by Tesco as "succulent, flavoursome and with a similar taste and texture to beef steak".

Kangaroo meat follows ostrich, crocodile, wild boar and buffalo as an innovation in the diet of a country which is becoming increasingly adventurous in its eating habits.

The National Heart Foundation of Australia has endorsed kangaroo for its low fat content - around 1 per cent - and low level of sodium.

A spokesman for Tesco said that half of its customers were trying to cut down on red meat.

More than 500,000 packs of ostrich steaks and burgers have been sold in Tesco supermarkets since they were introduced in May.

Sainsbury announced yesterday that it will stock buffalo meat in some of its stores as from next Thursday. The low cholesterol meat, classified as game, is imported from Canada and United States and is being offered as a tasty alternative to beef.

"People are certainly looking at the other varieties of meat which are available and we are offering them the choice," said a spokesperson.

Other stores look unlikely to follow suit, however. Jane Ellison, for Asda, said it did not stock kangaroo and had no plans to do so. A Marks and Spencer spokeswoman said: "We sell beef, lamb and pork. We are always looking at new developments in the food industry but we have no plans to sell kangaroo at present."

Notwithstanding supermarkets' efforts to reduce the impact of the BSE scare on their revenues, the Government continues to try to regain acceptance of British beef.

It will today launch an autumn campaign to end the six-month-old beef ban by seeking to persuade European scientists, meeting in Brussels, that fewer cattle need to be culled than first agreed.

It is now more than two months since John Major claimed victory in the beef war at the Florence summit, saying he had won assurances from his European partners that the ban would soon be over. Mr Major even suggested that the next phase in lifting the ban could start as soon as November.

However, as Brussels returned to work this week, there was no sign of further easing of the blockade until well into next year. The Government's only hope of a breakthrough lies in its ability to persuade other member states that new scientific evidence, published last month in Nature magazine, justifies a reduction in the number of British cattle which need to be slaughtered. If the slaughter plan can be cut back, the Government stands more chance of winning approval for its eradication measures in a House of Commons vote next month.