PferdeaugeThe discovery of horsemeat in ‘value’ burgers in UK supermarkets comes as no surprise. Whether the ‘mafia’ – as alleged by yesterday’s Guardian newspaper – is at the root of it, who knows? And any debate about whether the British have a problem with eating horses is a red-herring. The safety concerns are, of course, a factor. The content of manufactured food is supposed to be traceable. Clearly the inclusion of horse renders the contents far from traceable. Rather amusing really. Though the question is, what type of horse has been included. I do not mean the difference between a pony and a cart horse. I do mean the difference between one full of drugs or disease – or both – that should not be in the food chain and those that are not.

Rather, the issue is about price. Animal protein is expensive to produce. Using traceable meat particularly so, even if it is mechanically re-configured, or whatever they call it. The pressure on food producers is to cut costs in order to produce – for many people – affordable meat products. The pressure often comes from the supermarkets – and it is no surprise that it is the discounters and those offering ‘value’ level products particularly affected here. That said, there is no evidence so far that ‘premium’ products are not also contaminated.

Maybe this is just a critique of global capital. There are so many non-UK subcontractors in this story, one can see how messed up is the food industry. The eventual supply has been traced to Romania (via Cyprus and the Netherlands and France). Why Romania? Arguably, there are still many working horses there. Perhaps more importantly, the cuts in funding for trading standards departments in local authorities has reduced the detection capabilities.

I do not eat meat, but I do often cook from scratch – beans, vegetables and fruits. It takes time to prepare and cook, but I am pretty sure it is cheaper than cooking with meat.

Picture source: Wikipedia (Waugsberg)

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