Thursday, January 17, 2013

Horse trading.

The latest food scandal has hit the headlines in the last couple of days.
 Do we really know what is in our food?
 Well in the case of beefburgers, ready made cottage pies, beef curry's and lasagne you could be eating up to 29% horse meat .
 There is now a major recall of some of these products in Ireland and the UK and Tesco shares have dropped 300.000000 pounds in one day.
 The problem was first discovered back in Oct 2012 when the FSAI did DNA testing at factory level , when the first results came back the FSAI informed their counterparts in the UK that both equine and porcine DNA had been found in some of these products, further independent samples were taken which again showed that these 'beef ' products contained other animals DNA and this has led to the recall.
We have been assured that there is no safety risk, this is a food labelling problem, but  the bulking agents (pink slime) from where this contamination came from was not labelled horse/ pig,  it was labelled beef.
  Under EU regulations all additives must be listed. So how did this all come about?
 Once again we have to look to the supermarkets, they sell cheap food, this they tell us is because the consumers want cheap food, is this really the case? They are there to make big profits for their shareholders, (I guess Tesco shareholders are not too impressed at the moment) they contract the manufacture of processed food to food processing plants who have to give a consistent product, at the price dictated by the supermarkets even if this means sourcing from different countries.
We now know that this meat protein was imported from Spain and Holland, as they are both EU states and therefore have to comply with the regulations regarding labelling, something seems to have gone very wrong with their system traceability and inspection.
Meanwhile, back in Ireland the public are blaming our government although I cant follow this reasoning.
Both Ireland and the UK are major beef producers, in Ireland it is the main export commodity, we could well lose this export market due to  other EU states bad practicice.
Tesco is not the only big name to be involved with this scandal,  Asda,  Lidl,  Dunns , Iceland and Aldi amongst others.
Supermarkets have a lot to answer for, lowering of farming standards,  demanding lower prices from their suppliers, and destroying the life and soul of small towns.
 We live four miles from our local town,  population 3000, this would be from a catchment area of about eight miles radius, at one time our little town had four butchers, now down to two, five shoes shops, still here,  four pharmacy's still here,  three veg shops down to one,  at least one fresh fish shop, none now,  several bakery's, down to one, and numerous grocery shops, which would have been at the heart of the town where people would meet and absences would have been noted and enquiries made. We still have one small grocery store and  in spite of it being next door to Lidl  it is still a very busy little shop and often cheaper than Lidl or Supervalue, our other large supermarket.
The butcher that we use has been there since Noah was a boy, now run by two highly skilled real butchers, but both are coming up to retirement age, although they have sons, this next generation is not interested in becoming butchers. So yet another shop, and real skill will be lost giving the supermarkets even more power over what we eat.


  1. Good Morning,
    It is the same here, that is why I shop when I can at a local food co-op, if I have to shop at a supermarket I buy organic and read where everything comes from.
    What is surprising to me is that even when we have abundant local produce available, in the large supermarkets the same produce might come from Brazil!
    We have a big campaign to buy local in our area. When these scares happen some more people come over to our side. They come to see that buying meat especially from a local farmers is the best bet. Every week it seems there is a scare about hamburg.
    When I visit Ireland I shop locally. A local butcher, farmers markets etc., just like I do at home. We all have to band together to keep the small farmers going. I can't stand Tesco's they have no heart at all except when pushed by people for change.
    Its bitter cold here this morning, with little chance of getting warmer than the low 20's.
    Thanks for an excellent blog.

  2. No, I'm pretty sure most of us don't know what's going into our food. One of the good things about this scandal is that it is being discussed. I've learned a few things recently, what 'grind' is and how it can be labelled legally as 'seasoning' or how frozen chicken breasts can be imported from non-EU countries, injected with water, packed here and then sold as fresh and 'Irish'. (source: Irish Times) It's made me think a lot about what I buy.
    Personally, I am angry with the government, angry that they allow these practices while hammering the really small producer with a ton of regulations that often means selling their produce is economically unviable. The hoops you have to jump through to legally sell your surplus vegetables or a few pots of jam are a case in point.
    The big supermarkets are squeezing producers, charging high prices to the consumer and driving small traders out of business. Maybe government should step in.