Seven months after the Government first admitted the possibility of a connection between human deaths and BSE-infected beef, caterers at the event said that beef was still provoking mixed reactions among their customers.
"I feel more confident that measures have been taken to make sure beef is safe," said Gillian Bruton, schools catering manager of Citywide Catering, Salford's direct service organisation.
However, she said she was still not confident enough to put it back on the menu of primary schools until parents requested it. "They only see the headlines. I think it will be a long time before it is back on the menu," she said.
Nigel Haworth, chef proprietor at Northcote Manor in Blackburn, said he did not expect the recent announcement to affect his restaurant's beef sales significantly. "The jolt was six months ago. Lunchtime customers eat less beef but it's still selling strongly in the evening," he said.
Max Woolfenden, managing director of Wimpy International, continues to serve British beef in his 267 restaurants and said it was too early to tell what effect the latest research would have.
"Whenever there is a major announcement on beef there is invariably a blip on the [sales] graph. Before this, beef had shown signs of pulling back," he said.
Cyrus Todiwala, chef and co-owner of Café Spice Namaste, in the City of London, said the recent findings had not shaken his confidence in beef. However, he could not say whether it would have any effect on customers. "People are a bit sceptical. At least, we did not sell any less beef this week," he said.
After the conference, Mr Todiwala said he felt more confident that he could answer questions from customers about the safety of his meat. He said he would in future display information about his suppliers in the restaurant.
Frank Rowell, food buyer at Conran Restaurants, said customers still need educating about the safety of prime cuts. A slight blip in sales might now occur, he said, but he expected these to recover soon. "Since March our sales have fallen, but they came back over the summer and are now at similar levels to before March," he said.