Feb 132013

One of the humorous coincidences arising from the ever increasing horse meat saga, is that this would happen during the Tories reign of mis-rule. You see we often get treated to the Tories bang on about excessive government regulation and red tape, and how business could be far more effective without it.

And of course with a special venomous attack on the European bureaucrats.

Which is all very well, but the biggest lesson that can be learnt from the whole sorry saga of how horse meat got passed off as meat of another kind, is that we need government regulation to protect us from crooks pretending to be businesscritters. And honest businesscritters need that protection even more than the rest of us.

We have learnt how crooks have infiltrated horse meat into the market for cheap processed meat because it is so much cheaper than beef. This has two effects :-

  1. The crooks make money … lots of money.
  2. Honest businesscritters lose out. If it goes on long enough there won’t be any honest ones left!

There are those who say “well horse isn’t too bad … it seems to taste pretty good”, which is missing the problem(s). Not only should we be able to see what is in a product by looking at the ingredients list, but if crooks get away with putting safe horse meat into burgers, will cheaper crooks get the idea to put unsafe horse meat in ? Or rat? Or worse?

It is worth remembering this current saga when the Tories start banging on about government regulation – regulation is usually there for a reason, and the reason far too often is due to an event like this where unscrupulous crooks abused the public in order to make a bit more cash.


Feb 082013

The news is swamped at the moment with the story about horse meat being found in various cheap meat products that were labelled as containing beef. Interestingly this has crowded out the news that pork has also been found in Halal meat products – which could be more of a concern to a certain segment of the British population than unexpected horses turning up.

To summarise :-

  1. If you’ve been tucking into cheap meat-based meals then you have probably had a bit of horse. That’s not good, but don’t get too excited – a horse isn’t too much cuter than a cow. Besides, did you really believe that the ultra-cheap products you were buying only contained premium quality beef? It’s a surprise that the contaminant wasn’t found to be rat!
  2. It isn’t just horse meat. Those who don’t eat it may be surprised, but horse meat is eaten quite widely in Europe. European regulation very carefully distinguishes between horse meat intended for human consumption, and horses carcases originating from pets or race horses who have received certain drugs as pain killers.
  3. Horses can be given bute (a pain killer), but only if they are not intended for human consumption. Bute was previously approved for use by people as a pain killer, but approval was withdrawn after it was shown after prolonged use to have certain adverse health effects. Europe goes a long way to avoid allowing human consumption of horse meat contaminated with bute, so it is unlikely in the extreme that any food in the UK contained any. Even if it did contain bute, it is still unlikely to have a significant adverse effect.
  4. If you’ve been eating meat products contaminated with pork, it is worth remembering that god (if he or she exists) is likely to point the blame for that squarely where it belongs – with those who labelled the product incorrectly.

There is a serious issue here. Food products should only contain what is listed on the ingredients list, and companies who cheat should be punished in some form. It’s a curious coincidence that we happen to have a government packed full of Tories who insist that government regulation is a bad thing, when government regulation is the only thing that protects us :-

  1. It’s government regulation enforcers who found this stuff out.
  2. It’s only government regulation that makes the sellers feel guilty rather than shrugging and asking “What did you expect for a pound?”.
  3. It’s only European regulation that means that the horse meat you’ve mistakenly eaten is almost certainly safe to eat.

But it isn’t necessarily Findus or Tesco at fault here. And when you come down to it, that horse meat in the freezer was pretty tasty yesterday before you knew, so shouldn’t it be just as tasty today?

And if you object to eating horses, please remember that whilst being ground up and sold as a beef burger is hardly the end we would want, being ground up, sold as a beef burger and then being thrown away is even worse!

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