For those with a warped sense of humor there are a lot of jokes possible:
- Win, place or show as meat grades rather than USDA grades prime, choice or select
- “A horse is a horse, of course, of course (Mister Ed theme song) unless it’s a burger…”
- Meat that can race you home
…and so on and on…
Yet there is truly nothing humorous about buying what you expect to be ground beef and finding it to contain horse. According to NBC (http://worldnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/01/16/16542513-hamburgers-pulled-from-uk-supermarket-shelves-after-tests-reveal-horse-meat) recently the Aldi’s grocery discount chain in the United Kingdom has discovered traces of equine DNA in their packages of ground beef.
While customers may be more used to substances like hormones, the odd hair or fingernail, what they certainly do not expect is a species of animal they are more likely to consider not food. The contaminated meat has been pulled from the shelves, but there is no way of knowing how long this has been occurring and how many consumers have eaten this meat mixture.
For reasons many other cultures neither understand nor agree with, horses simply are not to be eaten by many of the rest of us, namely North Americans, the British and others who feel these noble animals are more like pets. Sure, they are also used for sports such as racing, steeplechase, and just simple riding for recreation, and often as beasts of burden or pulling vehicles. The Amish, for instance, still rely on horses for both transportation and agricultural work. Yet other nations like the Netherlands don’t mind putting horsemeat on the table and it often comes from the United States.
Certainly there are those who will claim horsemeat is low in fat, high in protein, and therefore should be considered a viable product for human palates. What, however, they do not take into account is the fact that many of us absolutely will not now, or ever, accept that certain animals we have affection for, as a species, are eligible to become food. Dogs, cats, rabbits (for most of us), hamsters, as well as horses, are capable of giving and receiving love and bonding with us. Rover, Fluffy or Blaze are part of our families, and where our hearts are concerned, we will not become cannibals, as it were, eating those we cherish.
Aldi’s markets are scheduled to spread to Southern California (specifically Riverside) sometime this year. It will be interesting to see if they try to pass off horseburgers as beef in this country, where such things are absolutely unacceptable. It will also be interesting to see how this scandal affects them in the stock exchanges worldwide. Will Californians—who not only lean more towards healthy foods but toward the intrinsic value of animals in general than those of other places—accept Aldi, following this incident? Or will they be automatically suspicious of a company that betrays consumers’ trust that their products are what they are labeled to be? Also, will Californians even want to go near a store that has, elsewhere, gained a reputation for offering products they deem, here, to be terribly against what they believe to be right? In other words, will they be willing to serve food to their children that may have come from an animal strongly linked to the kind they beg ride on at fairs and petting zoos?
Aldi’s stores have their good qualities as far as low prices are concerned. However, selling what people consider more or less pets is going too far. As well, sneaking in meat from other sources than what’s on the package’s label is out-and-out false advertising. With God knows what hormones, chemicals and quite likely other contaminants in the meat, too, the results can be far worse than anyone can guess at this point. Many people are allergic to horses, and will quite possibly suffer severe reactions.
GMO foods are bad enough; adding horsemeat to what is alleged to be one hundred per cent beef is criminal and should be punished thoroughly by the courts.