Friday, 18 January 2013

Neigh Problem

What a stooshie about the Irish food agency's findings of horse meat in hamburgers. Tesco, in particular, appears to have had the highest percentage of the meat in its burgers.

The food agency found that 10 out of 27 hamburger products analysed contained horse DNA and 23 of them tested positive for pig DNA.

In this country it's not tradition these days to eat horse meat but it's still eaten in France where I've consumed the meat more often than I can remember.  It's rather tasty - slightly sweeter than beef and was always very tender, although that could have been down to the cooking process.  I never bought horse meat and cooked it myself, but I would think it's treated in a similar manner to steak.

It's understandable for people to be angry with supermarkets for misleading them by displaying incorrect descriptions of their hamburgers, but I have no understanding of those presenting their faux outrage at the fact horse meat is involved.

I've never had any desire to eat horse meat these days because it is not available here but if my butcher did offer it then I may be tempted to buy the odd steak now and again.  After all, what's the difference between the meat of a cow, calf, sheep pig or horse? 

For years I've refrained from buying supermarket-own meat if at all possible.  Some years ago now a TV channel produced a damning documentary on the packaging system within the Tesco system and even today, when I look at Tesco's own branded meat, I'm vividly reminded of the horrors of that programme.  My meat is bought from a local butcher and yes, it is more expensive, but I just buy less.  If I need to buy meat products from a supermarket I ensure it's produced and packaged by a reputable company.  Highland Game's venison burgers are a favourite here.


Elby the Beserk said...

Agreed. I ate horse steak in Spain way way back and loved it; the donkey Salami was delicious as well. Quite why the media are referring to "contamination" beats me.

We're lucky too meatwise; Frome has the best Farmers' Market in the South West, and we can get bags of bloody meat of all kinds from local sources; the only meat I ever buy from the supermarket is bacon, when we run out.

Demetrius said...

The "Independent" today has an item about some chef's going in for hoggett, mutton and poultry from older free range birds on the grounds of taste, texture and quality. I am very cross about this because they are putting up the prices of stuff we have been eating. But you have to be a little canny in that it says two year old sheep and not worn out wool or lamb providers. As for horsemeat, so what if it is sound? The amazing thing is that in a lot of cheap supermarket stuff there is a whole lot of other rubbish that is neither needed nor healthy.

Joe Public said...

I believe it's a self-inflicted debacle by the supermarkets.

For years they've screwed their suppliers on price.

So the suppliers have had to source the cheapest ingredients.

Having said that, what's the problem? [Apart from a little mis-labelling.]

No one has died or been taken ill. Horse meat, as you say, is perfectly edible. I strongly suspect that there's more 'unmentionables' ground into chicken dippers/nuggets/'popcorn' & turkey twizzlers than into "beef" burgers.

The biggest surprise to me was the fact that one brand of burger was found to contain 39% horsemeat. I didn't realise they had 39% of meat from any animal(s) in them ;-)

Dioclese said...

Quite right Rosie! As I said myself today over on mine, it's the packaging that seems to be upsetting people rather than the 'food' itself.

Nothing wrong with horse. Rather eat a horse steak than a Big Mac. God knows what goes into that!

Lord Monty said...

I don't think it's the fact that it's horse meat that's the problem SR.
It's more the fact that it wouldn't have been tested for hygiene safety so could have died due to disease or cancers etc. Or was full of drugs. I think diseased horses have to be burnt or buried after a vet has done his best but some have obviously been transferred into the food chain instead.
I used to enjoy a horse steak with fries in Cyprus. Tasty.

subrosa said...

I've heard of Frome market Elby. Still have friends down that way as my parents lived in Somerset for 30 years. Aye the pair of us are lucky.

subrosa said...

Can't agree more with you and your last sentence Demetrius.

subrosa said...

He he Joe, your last sentence made me laugh because I considered ending the post in a similar manner.

subrosa said...

Do lots of Tesco's customers read the packaging Dioclese?

I try to but find the font size is unreadable.

subrosa said...

Mmm Monty, I don't have a lot of faith in the food safety business. Have you watched some of these programmes on TV? Some of these takeaways have had several warnings yet the places are really clorty and should have been shut down immediately the first problem was discovered.

JRB said...

As a proud horse owner and lover of horses I have to be the dissenting voice in this argument.

Of all the animals man has domesticated the horse is by far and away the most loyal the most affectionate and the most intelligent of creatures. The bond created between man and horse is without equal. Our oldest is approaching 30years, that represents a relationship longer lasting than many marriages, and like a marriage I can judge his mood just as easily as he can judge mine.

I would no more think of eating any of our horses than I would our dog or any of our cats.

But there are cultures where minced doggie or minced moggie is a delicacy.
(Subrosa – would you pot-roast that lovely creature of yours?)
There are equally cultures where the pig is an obscenity unfit for consumption; or cultures where the cow is a god to be worshipped and treated with reverence rather than be eaten.

Thank goodness I live in a culture where the horse is not normally eaten.

As for Tesco et al, how can 29% be regarded as “contamination”; 29% represents a major constituent. So much for quality control or contents labelling.

Apogee said...

Could be wrong but I read it that 29%
of whatever meat was contained was horse,I have grave doubt that there is much meat of any type in burgers.
This may inform somewhat. Sorry i is cut and splice.

Anonymous said...

I ate horse meat in Romania and found it agreeable enough.

Of course people can be fond of their horses, and no one would suggest that one would want to eat a horse one had made a part of the family. Nor I imagine would one want to do that with any animal that one had made a pet of.

There's no reason why you wouldn't eat goldfish, after all you eat smaller fish... but not a goldfish you'd had in the living room for a couple of years, and called Goldie (after Annabel).

I suppose that people are bothered that they have been lied to, and that's fair enough. But as someone on the News Quiz said tonight, when he was a student, and buying 20 Tesco burgers for a pound, he would have been delighted if there had been horse meat in them... any kind of meat would have been nice.

Anonymous said...

Here in Smalltown, we only get the finest food bought from the finest shops and served in the very best restaurants. I suppose we are just blessed!

Hamish said...

One of the funnier comments on this saga was "I don't know about Tesco burgers, but try their mesat-balls. I hear they are the dogs bollox".

cynicalHighlander said...

The 'Better Together' lot have been flogging that many dead horses they had to find somewhere to put them.

Stewart Cowan said...

Hi S/R,

I clicked your link to the Highland Game website and had to laugh when I read, "To achieve its aim, Highland Game set about establishing production facilities that would satisfy the stringent criteria demanded by major retailers."

What a waste of time and money that was!

I agree with JRB about man's relationship with different animals. I was very into horse racing many years ago and appreciated them as sports stars!

But what I don't understand is that with governmental interference in every part of life, it took this for them to realise that most burgers contain things they most definitely shouldn't. What are all these inspectors doing? All the boffins back in the labs?

Can we also assume that nearly every sausage is dodgy? As if we don't already suspect that, but worse than previously thought?

I had venison once, but wasn't too keen. I might give it another go. Is it guaranteed halal-free, do you know?

I wonder how those horses were slaughtered.

But actually, I'm finding it increasingly difficult buying food, trying to avoid the GMO, Halal, aspartame and MSG. And I boycott a few companies, like Nestle.

I've been boycotting Tesco's since 2005, so I'm not sorry it was them getting the bad publicity.

I think I have the bare bones of my own post on the subject there!

subrosa said...

No I wouldn't JRB because she's a pet. I can understand your feeling about horse meat but as others have mentioned there could be worse ingredients in supermarket hamburgers.

Yes we're lucky there's no need to have horse meat but I'm told a century or so ago it was eaten here. Must research that.

subrosa said...

You have a good point there Apogee. Just the other day I was looking for fish fingers for a young person coming for tea. I couldn't find any make which had more than 50% fish.

subrosa said...

Exactly Tris. Most of these things are composed of breadcrumbs or some other binder and beef flavourings. It's frightening reading some packs (if the font's big enough that is).

subrosa said...

We have supermarkets here Smalltown but as I said I use the local butcher. He can tell me the farm and the slaughter house etc.

subrosa said...

Now that is amusing CH. :)

subrosa said...

Hi Stewart. Like you I'm amazed with the behaviour of these food safety agencies. It took Ireland to find out about this.

The venison from my butcher definitely isn't halal and I doubt if HGs are either. You can buy HGs in Tesco and they're a very tasty quick meal. Other places stock them too I believe. My local farm shop does I know.

I've a Foreman Grill but if you don't stick them under the grill a couple of minutes each side. My favourite dish is a burger on toast with a salad.

Yes it's difficult but it's done me a favour I suppose insofar as I've given lots more thought to my diet in recent years and do tend to buy local these days. More expensive yes, but I just reduce the amount purchased.

Stewart Cowan said...

No, I don't have a Foreman. If I have a steak (rarely - as in only occasionally) I fry it off then throw it in the oven (I hate the sight of blood!). Got to get at it before it gets burnt, though.

I buy Morrison's meat as it is supposedly non-halal, except for the frozen lamb which is from NZ. I wrote to one of the haggis companies last year before Burn's night enquiring about whether they use halal ingredients, but never received a reply.

No reply = no buy!

I wish I was into gardening. No point retiring (if I ever get the chance).

subrosa said...

Well Stewart, either stick them under the grill or fry them.

Don't eat steak here much either but I saw a big one in the freezer yesterday so that's for the grill tonight. Need some comfort food in this weather. :)

I'm busier in 'retirement' than I ever was in 'work'. :)

Stewart Cowan said...

I can imagine, S/R. The number of things I should be doing is enormous.

subrosa said...

Retirement shouldn't mean you can't earn something Stewart. It should mean you've done the bit for others and now it's your turn to do your own bit. :)

Brian said...

Tesco have some rum ideas about their food. Last year I was buying an awful lot of sardines, tuna and pilchards as part of the Dukan diet so, after apparently analysing my purchases (I have a loyalty card), they sent me a coupon for .... cat food! How could they possibly imagine I would waste good fish on pesky mograts!

subrosa said...

Hi Brian, a pal of mine insists dog food is healthier than some of Tesco's meals.

It shows how they track our shopping habits though doesn't it.

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