Have you noticed that the list of food companies involved in Europe's meat crisis keeps growing? Frankly, maybe it’s high time to rethink what we eat and where we get it.
Even if you live privately in the back forty somewhere, by this time you’ve undoubtedly heard about the horse meat scandal that’s been all over the news. This is not the first food scandal that has ever happened and it most likely is not the last. Just recently we dealt with pink slime. Remember mad cow disease and a number of others? In the current scandal, at least there are no health concerns. Yet, as far as I am concerned, this seems to be a fiasco and it is disturbing.
This horse meat issue - and what other meats like pig or kangaroo or earth worms - are getting slipped into our foods? Perhaps it boils down to simple food politics. The great majority of Americans does not eat horsemeat, and wouldn’t knowingly eat it. So it’s simply slipped into the food chain and now it’s eaten by everyone.
As far as I am concerned, the horse meat scandal is not only about horse, an animal I personally would not eat for countless reasons, but it raises too many other questions. For instance, what else is being slipped into our foods? What about adding serious toxins to harm large groups of people, or adding meats not permitted for religious beliefs? Should we seriously question food safety? Where is the source – are there many sources? Is it all about money? How long has this really been going on? Who has been duping consumers? How do they get away with it anyway?
Huge companies implicated
Since the burger problems arose, many giant companies like Tesco, Liffey Meats, Silvercrest, Aldi, ABP Food Group, Nestlé and others have found themselves tangled up in the meat crisis. One of the worst findings was Findus beef lasagna which actually contained 100 percent horse meat. Immense amounts of frozen meats held up in cold storage by Freeza Foods contained 80 percent horse meat. And it didn’t stop there.
The far-reaching and widespread problem is what I find disquieting. While large companies may provide discounted prices, I have to ask myself if it’s worth it. As a consumer, I resent being deceived! Savings are not worth deliberate bait and switch tactics at any stage of the food chain. Consumers do not wish to purchase pig or horse when the package claims beef, nor do they want to worry about unsafe, unhealthy or questionable foods. Close review of the complexity of our food chain raises many fears.
In my mind, it’s all about big money.
In some instances, the horse meat DNA was miniscule and simply meant improper cleaning of equipment. (I might say here, that unsavory cleanliness does not make me feel good either.)
Other products have contained varying degrees of horse meat. In the case of Findus lasagna, packages contained 100 percent horse meaty. Other products contained 80 percent horse meat. To thicken the plot, they have also found pig meat in some instances.
To me, this signals immense problems. It isn’t just a “duping” of the consumer, it’s downright fraud. This doesn’t even touch on the fact that so many people do not want to eat horse meat or pig meat.
Then, when it comes down to the “who done it,” the fingerpointing starts.
This is why I think there’s a criminal stake in this.
Do we blame it on the mafia?
We’ve all heard it – there’s a possibility that organized crime has a hand in this scandal.
Of course it could be a possibility. Horse slaughter experts claim that Italian and Polish mafia is running huge scams to keep money up by substituting horse meat for beef. According to them, abattoir officials and workers in food production are getting There are claims that vets and other officials working within abattoirs and food production plants are terrified, threatened or otherwise intimidated into declaring the meat content as beef instead of pork or horse.
Britain’s environment secretary Owen Paterson said, “I’m concerned that this is an international criminal conspiracy here and we’ve really got to get to the bottom of it.”
Into the mix comes Romania
Road rule laws have changed in Romania. Carts pulled by donkeys have been banned on Romania’s roads and no horses are allowed on roads whether ridden or driven. This very fact has condemned hundreds of thousands of horses to the slaughterhouses, producing considerable amounts of horse meat.
This is a simple explanation of the origination of the surplus horse meat. The question remains, “How did the horse meat get to consumers’ dinner plates?”
How about this scenario:
It came from abattoirs in Romania through a dealer in Cyprus working through another dealer in Holland to a meat plant in the south of France which sold it to a French-owned factory in Luxembourg which made it into frozen meals sold in supermarkets in 16 countries.
Think about your food
If we believe what we know so far, we now realize that beef might have other meats added like horse or pig or even donkey.
I’d say we already knew that early on in the scandal. But what does it mean for you or me? For some of us, it may mean becoming vegetarians – we’ve thought about it and now is the time to switch. For others it means purchasing less meat or finding a new source for the meat we buy. We’ll bring our business to the local butchers. Aha! We could stop buying processed meats and hamburger. Some of us might buy less or stop buying frozen foods.
From the Guardian:
A handful of key players dominate the beef processing and supermarket sectors across Europe. They have developed very long supply chains, particularly for their economy lines, which enable them to buy the ingredients for processed foods from wherever they are cheapest at any point, depending on exchange rates and prices on the global commodity markets. Networks of brokers, cold stores operators and subcontracted meat cutting plants have emerged to supply rapidly fluctuating orders ‘just in time.’ Management consultants KPMG estimate there are around 450 points at which the integrity of the chain can break down.
That’s worth repeating — there are 450 places where something could go wrong before your food gets into your hands.
Do you want 450 places to have a hand in or on the foods you buy? To me, this makes Farmers’ Markets and locally-produced foods and everything home grown more appealing than ever.
My guess is that public trust has really eroded throughout this debacle. Then what? We’ve got to eat. So when it really comes down to it, who cares.
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