Posted on 19 Comments

Why are we so upset about eating horse meat?


With lots of jokes about the horse meat issue facing many of the suppliers of meat in our country, I’ve found myself mentally checking off the Dalepack, Findus, Tesco, Lidl and Aldi brands of any sort of meat.  I know that is actually completely ridiculous, but how many people feel the same way as I do about the horse meat scandal?

The Food Standards Agency seem to be more involved now and I hope they do decide to do mandatory tests on hospital and school meals as many of those are done on such a low price point per person when admin costs are taken off.

Those who can afford to buy proper meat from a good butcher will go and do exactly that.  Those who can’t afford to do that have no choice but to eat the cheap meat on supermarket shelves.  It always makes me cringe when I read the ingredients lists and the thought of the “pink slime” made me rightly or wrongly shy away from lots of meat products.  In my opinion cheap beefburgers probably seem to be a good place to hide undesirable ingredients.

People really don’t want to have to think that they could have eaten a former pet, discarded thoroughbred or seaside pony.  As a nation, we see horses as pets in the same way that we see dogs, cats, gerbils, rabbits, hamsters and guinea pigs.  In France, they do eat lots of horse, but I’d bet with the current state of play, they’d also be annoyed as it really isn’t about the horses.

It’s about not knowing what’s in our food.  If I knew horse or pink slime was in food, I’d rather feed my kids veggie.  The whole point is that we’ve been scammed as a nation, and that’s the most horrible thing about it all.

I want to know what is in my food, in my kids food, and in my animals food.  Criminal activity or not, someone somewhere put people at risk.

It’s been stated as not being a food health issue as if that makes it okay.  What if it hadn’t been horse?  What if it had been arsenic or poison, or something else?  Somewhere in the process and procedures, testing and quality assurance failed.

I hate the thought of mechanically processed food.  A chef once showed me the contents of a cheap commercial value pack of mince.  He rolled it out in his hand and showed me a bit of cheek and an eyelash.  I’ve never bought value mince products since that day.  He described it as the head stuck on a centrifuge and the contents forced off at speed.  Whether it was true or  false, it put me off for life.   I don’t think cheap meat is worth buying when we have no idea what it is that is actually in it.

If I couldn’t afford decent mince, I’d rather make lentil casserole instead – and I’m intolerant of lentils.  We all make our own choices, but I’d love to know how much cheap meat products have suffered this last week or so.

A dozen burgers for £1 are never going to be great quality, but the people buying them deserve to know exactly what’s in them.



19 thoughts on “Why are we so upset about eating horse meat?

  1. I don’t have a problem with the fact horse meat it being eaten. Meat is meat, you either eat it or you don’t.
    I do however have a big problem with being lied to. I tend to read food labels to avoid things that cause unwell children, but I now wonder if I’m wasting my time as ingredients panels obviously aren’t worth the ink used to print them.

  2. So true. I agree on the lentils…although I love them. Cheap meat equals the worst of the animal, the sooner people realise that, the better.

  3. Great comments about how we can make our own “fillers” for meat products with oats, grated veggies etc. I’m totally vegetarian but my husband and children aren’t so this idea works well for me to reduce their meat consumption and means I can buy best quality/free-range/organic etc. The main rule we have in our house is that if I buy meat it all gets used up and there is no waste. The carcass from the sunday roast chicken eventually gets made into chicken noodle soup, that way no scrap is wasted and at least I feel we did the animal justice!

  4. The sad thing is that this will be traced back and back and back until it gets to that source of horsemeat but it is, in fact, symptomatic of the way in which all of these companies now work – source raw product as cheaply as possible, employ staff for the lowest possible wages, have quality checks carried out by someone left to monitor too many different production lines, etc. etc. etc. I’d like this to raise the standard overall as food production is something I’ve always felt strongly about since working in the factory environments down near Peterborough (where most jobs were low wage and hard work). I’ve seen some horrible stuff. Bad products packaged because staff wanted to make the quota and get home, the chicken injected with flavoured water so that it looks bigger when frozen (a common practice, the pieces actually went through “an injection machine”) and even a production environment that was cleaned with too much of a certain chemical, resulting in contaminated food that fell apart.

    1. Greed and making products as cheap as possible certainly does make shortcuts. Chicken injected with flavoured water is incredible, but I believe every word. Short cuts always make the end user suffer the consequences of poor quality and it’s really not fair that it’s always the same people that have to use those products to make ends meet at home.

      1. Agree with you Scottish Mum. I think shortcut sometime brings great result but someday that will be one of the major sufferings for their life. We should do our work before our leap. Otherwise we will be the looser.

  5. I agree with the first commenter. It’s about being able to make an informed choice and being given what you pay for. If I went into a restaurant and ordered a beef steak, I wouldn’t be happy, if they gave me a pork fillet pretending it’s beef. Does that make sense?

    1. They take away our choice when they decide to give us food that is neither packaged nor labelled as what it is. Yes, what you say makes perfect sense.

  6. Properly regulated horse butchers in other european countries sell their products for what they are, and people know what they are buying. What is really concerning is the meat products coming in that are not regulated and contain traces of equipalizone and other drugs. I agree about mechanically recovered meat and was just saying tonight that it is the poorest in our society who find it difficult to avoid these cheap products. I hope this scandal highlights the true cost of properly produced meat. However, somehow I doubt it.

    1. Somehow I doubt it too. The people with the money can afford to make the products whatever they want them to be, and in most cases, those making the buying decisions won’t be the ones eating them.

  7. Having worked in branded/high street kitchens it really is eye-opening the quality of some of the food that comes in. Nothing shocks me anymore :/

    1. Now that just scares me. I like to think that poor quality food is the preserve of poor quality places, but I suspect that it really isn’t and some is just hidden in the sauces. Maybe our fish and chip suppers in UK are better for us after all.

      1. Everyone is looking to save money in anyway they can – which means opting for the lower quality products. Safety isn’t usually a concern but the actual look/quality of some stuff can be shocking…

  8. Absolutely agree with you. I’m veggie, but my husband and children are not.
    I have been fuming at the news coverage when they state it’s not a food health risk, that’s not really the point is it? It’s about knowing what you’re eating, and knowing that if you choose to eat beef – you get beef.
    Unfortunately I’m not sure it’s going to mean people ditching value products and turning to the butcher – budgets only stretch so far, and if a family can only afford £1 packs of burgers, they’re never going to be able to afford real mince are they?

    1. Agree, many can’t afford to shop at a butcher, but it’s possible to buy meat and then mix in oatmeal and fillers ourselves to pad it out for more than 1 or 2 meals. Perhaps it’s time to promote that kind of thing rather than expecting the supermarkets and their suppliers to do it for us and not tell us what’s in things. So horrible that they seem to think that value range is an excuse to add things that aren’t on the ingredients lists – even if we did know what those were.

      1. I agree. I often use lentils, oats or grated veggies to make their meat meals go a bit further.
        Interestingly I think it’s Sainsburys who have just started a campaign on making meat last 2/3 meals…

        1. Sainsbury’s might just come out of this ok if their suppliers don’t let them down too.

  9. It is unacceptable to not know what you are being served! I should go to a butcher more and do usually go with the convenience of the supermarkets.

    1. They should be made to list the ingredients in plain old english rather than the scientific names. If I’m going to eat pink slime, I’d like it to say pink slime on the list. Our local indie butchers do seem to be the best places to go to know what we’re eating.

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