A Budgens store has prompted controversy by putting squirrel meat on its shelves.

The independent shop in Crouch End, North London, says there has been “huge interest” in the food although more customers are looking than buying.

Actress Jenny Seagrove, patron of animal welfare group Viva, condemned the decision, the Daily Mail reported.

She said: “It is unbelievable that our wild grey squirrels are now being killed and packaged up for sale in such high street stores.

“What gruesome product will be next to grace our food aisles? Blackbird, field mouse or mole?”

A spokesman for Musgrave, which operates Budgens, said: “As our retailers are independent, they have the right and ability to secure products that Budgens do not offer for sale within their individually-owned stores.”

Squirrels are said to have a nutty flavour and can be used in soups, pies and casseroles.