A great deal of horse crap has been written in the past day or so after some frozen burgers were found to contain –
Tighten your seat-belts, if you happen to be of a delicate disposition, and brace for a shock.
They were found to contain horse meat.
Why it would be okay for them to contain pork, or beef, or lamb, or venison, or chicken, or turkey – or umpteen things so long as it is not horse meat – is bewildering.
It’s not as if the bloody beast is going to whinny or snort just as you prepare to sink your teeth into the burger.
But your Poms can be a queer lot, and the discovery of the aforementioned horse meat obviously has unnerved the authorities.
And so (as we learn here)
Food standards watchdogs in Britain launched an urgent inquiry into beef produce after frozen burgers contaminated with horse and pig meat were identified in Irish tests, leading to four of the major supermarkets clearing their shelves.
The British and Irish governments, food watchdogs and companies involved began a pan-European investigation of supply chains for beefburger products found to contain equine and porcine DNA.
David Cameron told MPs the contamination, originally revealed by Irish authorities on Tuesday, was “a completely unacceptable state of affairs”.
Pointing the finger at supermarkets, he said that although investigations were now looking at the supply chains, “it is worth making the point that ultimately retailers have to be responsible for what they sell and where it has come from”.
The Cameron feller mentioned in that bit of text, of course, is the British Prime Minister.
It is hard to see exactly what is an unacceptable state of affairs.
But the Guardian goes on to say supermarkets with “contaminated” products and a British processing plant in north Yorkshire have been given until Friday to come up with definitive information on what went wrong.
It seems silly to be looking for what went wrong, of course, when nobody – so far as we can tell from published reports – has been hurt.
No one has died as a consequence of eating these burgers.
Nobody has had a tummy upset.
The only mischief done is that British sensibilities have been upset.
The hysteria generated by the prospect of a bit of minced horse meat finishing up in a burger is astonishing.
Some companies took beef not implicated in the tests by Irish authorities off the shelves as a precaution as the meat industry sought to avert a consumer backlash such as those caused by BSE during the 1990s and the dioxin contamination of Irish pork in 2008.
Although neither supermarket was implicated in the tests, Asda withdrew nine burger lines while it carried out checks on suppliers and Sainsbury’s withdrew one line from sale.
So what exactly has been uncovered?
Not enough to frighten the horses.
As Alf understands it –
On Tuesday, the Irish investigation by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) found that Tesco, Lidl, Aldi and Iceland stocked beefburger lines contaminated by DNA from horses, although not all were sold in stores in England, Wales and Scotland. But all the firms also withdrew burgers in the UK.
Nearly £300m was wiped off the value of Tesco at one stage on Wednesday. Tests on one of its burgers in the Irish inquiry had suggested that 29% of the meat content was from horses.
The FSAI inquiry covered beefburgers processed at two plants in Ireland, Liffey Meats and Silvercrest Foods, and at Dalepak Hambleton in North Yorkshire, and analysed 27 beefburger products with best-before dates from last June to March 2014. Ten – 37% – tested positive for horse DNA and 85% were positive for pig DNA.
The FSAI analysis also found traces of horse DNA in batches of raw ingredients, including some imported from the Netherlands and Spain.
A brisk business has opened up for food testers.
They are sticking their instruments into anything that looks like it might contain meat.
As a consequence –
A total of 31 beef meal products such as cottage pie, beef curry pie and lasagne were tested, with 21 found to be positive for pig DNA. All were negative for horsemeat. Another 19 salami products were tested but showed no signs of horse DNA.
And yet the threat to health is …
In fact, zilch.
The FSA said checks for horsemeat had not been conducted in the past because it did not pose a threat to health.
On the other hand, Alf recalls reading a nice piece some years ago (here) on the merits of going right ahead, if you are hungry enough to eat a horse.
… that people have been eating horse meat for as long as people and horses have shared the same lands, and most countries around the globe would no more consider banning horse meat for human consumption than they’d outlaw onions.
The issue is complicated, divisive and highly emotionally charged, and will probably never be completely resolved; but the fact remains that eating horse meat is no less natural for humans than consuming any other large-built domesticated livestock, no matter the taboo status some overzealous animal lovers continue to project onto it.
Though virtually all the “animal rights” lobbies are constantly working toward a complete ban on using horses for anything more demanding than countryside scenery filler, those practical-minded, self-reliant people who understand the often hard realities of food production at the grassroots level know that horses, for all their intrinsic beauty and millennia of loyal service, are, in effect, not much more than horn-less cows—especially in emergency survival situations. And why not? Horse meat is perfectly good, healthy, organic protein.
The ancient Romans knew it, the American Indians knew it, the original homesteaders knew it, and the animal rights crowd knows it too—even if they don’t like admitting to the knowledge.
This article – by the way – said horse meat had a delicate flavour similar to beef, though many describe its taste as slightly sweeter than other meats.
It noted that horse meat can be used to replace beef, pork, mutton, and any other meat in virtually any recipe, though most aficionados prefer it in marinated or spicy dishes.
Ah, and then come the nutritional benefits.
Horse meat has around 40 percent fewer calories than the leanest beef, while supplying 50 percent more protein and as much as 30 percent more iron, and horse fat is considered an excellent health-conscious deep-frying alternative, especially for delicately-flavored foods that are easily overpowered by heavier oils.
Moreover, the article pointed out that most American adults have probably eaten horse meat, though they didn’t know it at the time.
Ground beef imported from South America for the steadily expanding fast food industry was once notorious for its horse meat content. Remember when the big hamburger chains began stressing their use of “100 percent pure beef” in commercials and ads? It wasn’t that long ago. Strict laws, and even stricter inspection procedures, stopped much of the blatant offenses, but horse meat still continues to filter onto the American food market, mostly in highly spiced canned import delicacies.
Finally, Alf brings his constituents a recipe (here) containing a good chunk of horse meat.
It is Horse Meat, Tripe and Spinach Stew from Kazakhstan and it contains 1 lb of horse meat, along with half a cleaned and washed tripe, 1/2lb liver, 1 beef heart and a few herbs and spices.
It looks scrumptious.
Next time Alf loses money on a nag at the races, he will arrange to buy the bloody beast that did not deliver the winnings, then have it put down and chopped up to be put into the recipe.
Vengeance does not have to be sweet.
It can be nicely spiced.