The ongoing publicity about contamination of beef products with horsemeat is becoming increasingly annoying. The major issue is not that the consumer is being fleeced and defrauded, nor that the food is mislabelled, nor that it is horsemeat, it is that material is entering the food chain that is uncontrolled and uncertified as passed ‘fit for human consumption’.
All the media is ignoring that, with the press overloading their pages, TV plastering our screens, and Radio filling the airways, to play on people’s gratuitous emotions and adverse reaction to inadvertently eating horse – why can’t at least some of these communicators get a grip? Statements are being made about the throwing away of ‘good food’ as supermarkets and suppliers ditch suspected contaminated stock. The point is that no one knows whether the food is safe to eat or not so anyone deliberately eating it is taking a chance.
There is a history of the eating of horsemeat being banned by religious groups, and we in Britain view with abhorrence the eating of horsemeat; but horse is in fact eaten in many countries around the world and they are farmed for meat. A local eatery in my town has jumped on the bandwagon following the beef scandal and is serving horse-burgers, but that is likely to be a 5 minute wonder!
Regulations controlling horse meat entering the human food chain start in UK with a Horse Passport system. By law all horses have to have them so that those treated with medicines cannot be slaughtered to enter the food chain. However, the furor over beef contamination has thrown up serious doubts as to the effectiveness of the Passport system because they are apparently issued by every Tom, Dick, and Harry. Equally worrying is the uncertainty of regualtions in other countries about horsemeat entering the human food chain. A large number of horses (many thousands and many ex racehorses) are currently being slaughtered in Britain, destined for the overseas human food chain.