Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Victory Imminent for Regulatory Neighsayers

I'm going to preface this post by stating emphatically that I like bistecca di cavallo as much as the next guy. That being said, knowing what I'm eating is important to me, so I've been following the European horse meat scandal pretty closely. It seems that one of the problems leading to the meat mixup is sourcing ground meat from multiple points of origin, as part of a Byzantine supply chain:

Some of the beef products sold in Britain went through five different suppliers in four countries before landing on supermarket shelves. The beef ingredient in just one frozen meal made by food giant Findus travelled through a processor in France, which bought it from a trader in Cyprus, who used a trader in the Netherlands who received it from two butchers in Romania.

In other cases meat from two slaughterhouses in Poland, where cattle and horses were slaughtered, followed a similar winding path through factories in France and Luxembourg and then on to grocery stores in Britain and Ireland. While the EU has strict rules about food labelling, enforcement is weak and penalties for mislabelling are considered light.

In many cases the food companies involved said they had no idea where the meat originated and most are now suing their suppliers who are suing their subcontractors.

This multi-mile meat meandering is a great argument for the locavore movement... it's always good to get to know the person who is handling your meat. At a minimum, I'd settle for accurate labeling of meat and meat by-products.

At any rate, the admixture of horsemeat with ground meat which was sold as beef was caught by Irish food inspectors who tested random samples of ground beef for the presence of equine adulterants. Here in the States, the budget sequestration could cause government meat inspectors to be furloughed. Basically, the "watchdogs" will be removed from the meat-packing plants, but there's no need to worry about the adulteration of meat products because the meat industry in the U.S. is on the level.


mikey said...

I honestly haven't followed this saga at all. And frankly, I'm confused. Is the problem that horsemeat is not nutricious, or somehow not healthy to eat? Because if people bought it as beef and ate it and couldn't tell the difference, and some of it was horse, or dog, or Republican, I'm having a problem getting terribly upset. Obviously there's a dishonesty factor, transparency is always better than opacity, but in the end if the food you buy is not dangerous or harmful and tastes like it should, it's probably not that big a deal.

Also, too, I'd second the conclusion that you shouldn't let strangers handle your meat. Um, except maybe on weekends...

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Basically, the "watchdogs" will be removed from the meat-packing plants...

Welcome to The Jungle.

Mandos said...

The thing is huge news here in Europe, because food purity is a public obsession, even if the regulatory agencies do little to enforce it.

So. Horses raised for meat are actually quite expensive. You don't put *that* horsemeat in cheap lasagna, it's a delicacy.

The horses that are going into the meat are of unknown quality and may indeed have very many drugs and other things in them---race and recreational horses are drugged to the nines---and it undermines public confidence in the European food system.

They've found that Turkish doner sold in Western Europe (not from Turkey) also has unknown quantities of horsemeat---and pork, which is it *really* not supposed to have.

Mandos said...

BTW this is symptomatic of problems with EU-wide economic regulation, since the EU is run by the mostly unaccountable European commission. Germany has a "consumer protection minister" who has made all kinds of toothless announcements once the British horsemeat scandal was found to have reached German supermarkets, but no one expects anything to be done, since it is not within her jurisdiction that the problems occurred.

Fortunately, there are still butchers in Europe who will process your meat in front of you. The most affordable are Muslim halal butchers if you want to forego pork and are not offended by halal.

anne said...

mouthing 'er fleurs break, sitting to listen to men talk about meat , wait, what , the globe and mail , that's not right , they said that if i sent an orb to l a immed. after he mentioned that i was by the lake, ont. here , that he would not turn in to another man that has suddenly taken an interest in the globe and mail .. , damn,/ up ag...back to 'er finer dusting .. .

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

ew. I wouldn't eat Republican. Too fatty. Besides, you have a pretty good idea where they've been.

Smut Clyde said...

The poisoned consumer's condition was described as 'stable'.