Bored of the usual rows over budgets, debt and national sovereignty, Britain and it’s European partners are involved in quickly escalating row of the more bizarre kind at the moment. That of the under-the-radar use of horse meat. As things stand this morning, the bigger hitters on the continent have decided to make Romania the fall guy, for what is, to me, no more than a labeling issue.
The story broke last month when certain cheaper beef products in Ireland tested positive for low levels of horse. From there the problem has spread to the UK, France, Luxembourg and Sweden. But as the number of countries affected has risen, so too has the percentage of horse found in beef-based food. Within a month reports have changed from “low levels” to “upwards of 100 percent”.
A certain amount of panic has spread around Britain since, with some people filling their trash cans with as much meat as they can carry from their freezers. The government’s response was to tell everyone to calm down and not waste food. Luckily for Britons, due to the lack of beef in curries, nobody is about to starve, which is more than can be said for some employees of Romania’s food processing factories. The trail of blame has fallen firmly at the country’s feet, in a passing-the-buck move led by France, which is, incidentally, a nation where horse is consumed voluntarily.
And this is the point. Horse meat is eaten knowingly in some countries, just like any “normal” menued animal. It just isn’t as prominent as beef or pork or lamb. I pride myself on my “animals eaten list”, which stands at 15. Horse isn’t officially on it, but I’d try it, just like I would dog, given the chance, and in the right environment. The only real problem emanating from this row is over misleading packaging. For example, the packaging says 80 percent beef, when it’s actually 100 percent horse. Look at it this way, you’re actually getting more meat! When it comes to eating cheap frozen lasagne, however, you try telling the difference.
I feel I should also point out, for those of you, like myself, who follow horse racing, that 2011 Derby winner Animal Kingdom’s trip to Dubai and Europe this season has nothing to do with this seemingly expanding “market”. He’s definitely worth more to his new owners alive and breading. Unfortunately, a lot of horses don’t possess the same cruising speed as Animal Kingdom, and thus end up pretending to be something they are not. Chik-fil-A should take note. Expanding into Europe at this moment in time may be a wise move. It’s “eat more chicken” campaign would go down a treat.