Despite growing fears about BSE on the European continent, Gioma Restaurants, owner of the Gaucho Grill steakhouse chain, is pressing ahead with its planned European expansion programme.

Zeev Godik, Gioma's chairman and chief executive, says he is undeterred by the new wave of anti-beef sentiment that has seen McDonald's to register its first profits fall for nearly three years. He claims the effect on his business is 'not very significant,' adding: "We have been through this before, when the BSE crisis first hit the UK."

Mr Godik is hopeful that customers will distinguish between the company's Argentine beef, which is 'the closest thing to free range,' and meat produced in Europe, where contamination fears are rife.