Lately, a lot of European consumers have been bombarded with the news that there is horsemeat in their lasagne, or hamburgers, or stews, First, English and North Americans find horsemeat objectionable from a traditional perspective. Horses have been regarded as beats of burden, and for racing. Workhorses have been for a long time very useful in industry and agriculture in the west, and for some farmers in less developed countries.
English and North Americans consider horsemeat in their food anathema, whereas in France, Switzerland, Italy, and some other European countries horsemeat is sold legally in specialized butcher shops.
Racehorses are fed with all kinds of medications (some carcinogenic) to prevent and/or cure common horse diseases.
Upon retirement they may or may not be slaughtered. Although there is a voluntary agreement between racehorse breeders and owners to keep track of all medications they feed to each horse, there is no guarantee that all involved are honest and record everything. Once the horse is sold, and slaughtered, the meat (at least in Canada) is exported usually to Europe. From there no one knows where the meat goes.
In fact, Canada has two large abattoirs processing the meat of American horses that have served well, and have passed their prime. All the meat, or at least the majority, is exported to Europe.
It is important to point out that no one has died eating horsemeat. In fact, horsemeat is leaner than beef, and has a finer texture than that of beef.
The people responsible in this scandal, if it is a scandal at all, are manufacturers of convenience food, in that they were disguising the fact that they were blending horsemeat into products touted as pure beef. According to most countries’ food legislation all ingredients used in a manufactured product, must be listed on the label for all to see.
In many countries the legislation fails to specify the type of meat i.e lamb, pork, beef, camel or horse that the product contains. In all Muslim countries any product containing pork will not be allowed to the market.
Food control agencies in all countries are supposed to closely monitor food production, processing, and provenance, yet they have been amiss and derelict in their responsibilities. The claim of being short staffed is irresponsible and simply unacceptable. Authorities can easily force manufacturers to submit samples of each lot for analysis.
Wineries do it for export, and in their laboratories for fear of being exposed.
In the end, at least in my opinion, the “horse meat scandal” is the shortcoming of food control agencies and irresponsible behaviour of food manufacturers.
Buyer beware is more apt today than when it was coined well over 2000 years ago by Romans!
|Writer – Hrayr Berberoglu – E-mail – Read his books?
Professor B offers seminars to companies and interested parties on any category of wine, chocolates, chocolates and wine, olive oils, vinegars and dressings, at a reasonable cost.