Saturday, 26 January 2013

Horses for (Main) Courses

It seems incredibly unlikely you've failed to hear this story (unless you are one of my random fans in Mauritius or the Dominican Republic, in which case, Hi! I’m sorry I’m not a website that will allow you to earn $$$s for nothing online. I don’t know why that URL sends you here either…). About a week ago, inspectors from the Food Standards Agency found traces of horse DNA in burgers sold by Tesco and Iceland ( The majority of these burgers were immediately withdrawn, but not before the populous of Britain was decimated as a result of eating such a poisonous substance as horsemeat. Oh wait, no, that last bit only happened in the mind of most of the British tabloids. In actuality, NOTHING HAPPENED. Nothing.

Yet this hasn’t prevented the media from stringing this story out for over a week now. Only today I was reading an exposé in a well-known paper (whose name I won’t recount, but which rhymes with Bailey Birror), which contended that (shock horror) Tesco’s staff weren’t the most conscientious people on Earth and had let a few such burgers slip through the net, such that they could still be bought ( 

That is not the most ridiculous story on this subject I’ve read over the last week, though. No, the prize for that goes to Labour’s Mary Creagh. The FSA has detected phenylbutazone (a rather unpleasant drug that shouldn’t be eaten by people who don’t want to poisoned) in eight horses, none of which were shown to have gone into the food chain. Ms Creagh declared that strict measures need to put into place to prevent such drugs from entering the human food chain, with immediate effect ( Um… why? The FSA has strict measures. They test food horses exported from this country for bute, and if they find traces of it, they alert the relevant authorities in the relevant country. The drug wasn’t detected in the horrifically despoiled burgers, but in the horses before they became burgers. The system actually works, so it is ludicrous to be attacking the FSA over managing to do their job properly. While I applaud Labour for actually advancing a policy for once, perhaps they could make the next one on something relevant, like education, defence, or (God forbid) the welfare state they’re supposed to champion.

While Horseburgergate is a bit of a silly story, presumably designed to deflect from the various acts of murder and death that are occurring across North Africa and the Middle East at the moment, it also has a sad point to it. Horsemeat is entirely edible (when properly checked, which it is, as we’ve established). The French eat quite a lot of it, but that is only correlation: contrary to what that bloke in the corner of the pub says, there is no evidence that eating horses will make you French. What there is evidence for, however, is that half of the food generated in the world is left to spoil and wasted, while people starve, both at home and abroad ( In this context, the ridiculous reaction of the British media and public to the idea that their burgers might be made of edible meat that isn’t ground up bull’s bollocks is not just an over-reaction, it is an arrogant waste of food for purely cosmetic reasons. It is difficult to balance stories from a media that at one time is sobbing over a man having to walk 9 miles to reach a food bank (, and then is damning supermarkets for failing to destroy perfectly edible food.

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