Home James, and don’t spare the horses

Tesco+burgersEmily and I discussed this morning the whole horse meat story in the press over the last couple of days. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-21054688.

I think the issue for us is not that the burgers contained horse meat, this is a perfectly accepted meat source for some cultures, but the fact that there has been some level of deceit. Food that we serve in good faith to our families, it would seem, is not necessarily always presented to us honestly and this is very worrying. 

The press have labeled this a contamination, suggesting that it was an accidental occurrence. But it begs the question – given the significant amount of production, has something more untoward been happening here? Are we really aware of the extent of similar such “ contamination”? My gut instinct tells me not.

Given the demand for cheaper and cheaper products, perhaps we have lost some perspective of what our groceries should cost if produced ethically?

If there is a demand for cheaper meat and horse is a viable alternative why should we not sell horse burgers – if they are clearly labelled? Of course we do not have a culture of eating this type of meat in this country but at least there would be an informed choice as a consumer.

I will point out that I have never eaten horse, (at least not knowingly) but as we happily eat cows and sheep, horse meat is not an unreasonable source of protein. However, I will also admit to being typically British and rather squeamish about the idea.

It is a very controversial area and I understand that it is not in our normal blog domain but while we are looking at British brands we need also to make sure that they are looking after us and representing us the way we would expect.

– James

Comments

  1. You make a good point about paying an ‘ethical’ price. Things have become so cheap and disposable that we have lost focus on the important basics. Health and well-being have been taken for granted, along with quality of life. And by wanting to spend more and more money on luxury goods, and less and less on the boring basics, we’ve created pressure on producers that shouldn’t exist. Not sure how you mistake a horse for a cow, though…
    Maybe we should spend more time, effort and money on getting the basics right while the recession forces us to consider what is ‘necessary’.
    Sorry, rambling over. Keep up the great work, Bradshaws- it’s got me thinking about my own priorities!

  2. jenny jemison says:

    I agree it is the deception which is more of a worry though I really don’t want to eat horse thank you.

  3. Kenny says:

    I’ve eaten horse a couple of times on the continent, no different from eating cows or sheep in my opinion. Like you say the problem is in the fact that people buying these products are not aware of the contents.
    I reckon this one will run for a while, it’s probably the tip of iceberg so to speak.

    • Maxine says:

      I agree completely Kenny, and I too have eaten horse on numerous occasions as well as many other things people would not be too thrilled about including squirrel, guinea pig, snake, shark and alligator, the list is endless. While I eat practically no meat at all these days for varying reasons (mostly health) it is very British to not want to eat animals we attach such sentiment too, but its illogical and animals are animals at the end of the day, if they produce good tasting meat in some cultures that makes them fair game….. it is the deceit we dislike most, but this is rife with things like ham, some of which isnt even ham…. we need to pay more attention to what we eat and demand more detailed labelling and harsher punishment for those that flout these rules !!! We should be the ones to decide what we do and dont eat !!

  4. Ian Deaville says:

    There have been other cases in the past where someone in the food industry has managed to get inappropriate food into the human food chain. Where there are large-scale corporations who cannot know the provenance of everything they handle there will always be opportunities for mistakes or unscrupulous practices.

  5. julie vinsome says:

    My husband ate horse meat in Belgium many years ago and said it was delicious but he was quite aware that it was horse and not cow I agree the issue today is whether the manufactures have been deceitful or criminal. Over the years we have had many food scares from boot polish in sauces to out of date chicken being washed in something obnoxious and then relabeled as fresh. Perhaps it is time for a rethink into how we feed our families. I grew up in the 50’s on a diet of home grown vegetables, local eggs ( two doors away) and very little meat . The local grocer cooked his own ham( his brother was a local farmer) and the baker was up at 4am so that we could have fresh bread each morning. My mother shopped daily in the village , she didn’t own a fridge or a freezer but we lived healthily and happily. We didn’t have to take Vitamin D supplements because we played outside in all weathers, rain , sunshine and snow! I will no longer be buying mince, burgers or pies from the supermarkets but will be making everything from scratch just like my mother did

    At least I will know what’s in it !!

  6. Chris says:

    I have eaten horse on the continent it is very nice, more gamey than beef but less so than venison. I agree that the issue is with eating horse per se but with the ‘sneaking’ it in and not labelling it. If it was pork rather than horse, what would the reaction be? Many people don’t eat that for religious reasons so would be horrified if it was not labelled!
    Personally I would like to see horse meat more widely available as it is tasty and will help revive New Forest ponies etc.

  7. mannie khan says:

    WHILST AGREEING WITH YOUR COMMENTS, I THINK A MORE SERIOUS ASPECT OF THIS IS HOW LONG HAS THIS BEEN GOING ON AND WHAT OTHER THINGS ARE BEING
    PUT INTO OUR FOOD, WHICH THE BRITISH FOOD STANDARDS ARE ALSO NOT FINDING.!!! I UNDERSTAND THIS WAS PICKED UP BY THE IRISH NOT THE BRITISH FOOD STANDARDS. WHAT IS BEING PUT IN THE PROCESSED FOOD WE PURCHASE.??????
    WE ARE CONSTANTLY TOLD WE CAN TRUST OUR SUPERMARKETS AND FOOD SUPPLIERS, PERSONALLY I DO NOT THE BOTTOM LINE IS THERE PRIORITY.

  8. Aaaahhh Tesco! I must admit; my family won’t go near Tesco however I agree that there has been a great deceiption here and although I’m not sure how I’d feel about eating horse I’d happily give it a go.
    Ben is right ~ your project has made us reflect upon our priorities also. You have a great challenge in only buying British. Good luck!

  9. Yvonne Foster says:

    What about people with food allergies. Not knowing what is in our food can make some people seriously ill. How are we supposed to trust that the food we put in our mouths is safe for us on a personal level. We should be correctly informed regarding what we are consuming so we can make a choice.

  10. I agree it is a question of deceit (honesty) and it is likely that this is the tip of the iceberg. It surely cannot be a coincidence that the government scaled back the role and remit of the Foods Standards Agency very soon after the election in 2010, nor that big business had lobbied them to do this:
    http://m.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/jul/11/food-standards-agency-abolished-health-secretary

  11. I have no problem with horse meat and ate a delicious horsemeat sausage in Berlin (well, it would be a sausage, wouldn’t it?).

    Horses appear to be a lot cleaner than pigs, or for that matter cows.

    As you say, it is the deception and lack of rigour by our authorities that is the concern.

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