It has been a week since various products on sale in the UK including Tesco’s ‘Everyday Value’ Frozen burgers were found to have up to 30% Horse meat in them, and it appears that it has had a lasting effect on public opinion bringing Tesco’s respectability as a household name into disrepute.
At least this is what we should conclude by looking at the lengths to which the Supermarket chain has gone to apologise. By launching a campaign of full page adverts in National newspapers blandly presenting a rather comprehensive apology and almost confession, ultimately summed by an isolated paragraph stating ‘We and our supplier have let you down and we apologise’. It is clear that this issue has been taken extremely seriously by Tesco and that they see it as posing a threat to their position as a vastly growing company in the UK market. However, has this been blown out of proportion?
This incident is far from isolated and one that seems to have been exaggerated somewhat, however it has led to various questions being asked of the Food industry safe guards as well as questions of the British public itself. Horse meat is a primary ingredient in varieties of salami, chorizo, pastrami and other sausage meat which are popular sellers in the UK. So was it the fact that Horse meat was present in the burger, or the trading standards issue that it wasn’t stated along with the other ingredients, which caused the uproar?
…would anyone have noticed?
Horse meat has been a source of nutrition for years for many countries in Europe, including our very close neighbours France, as well as parts of Asia and South America, as well as actually being used in food shortages in Wartime Britain. Also, it is arguable that these ‘value’ brand products also contain much more harmful ingredients than Horse meat, such as high levels of saturated fats which should surely cause more concern. This shows that it is obviously the fact that the illegal issue of not stating the use of Horse meat in the ingredients caused the uproar, but let’s face it, even if it was listed in the ingredients, would anyone have noticed? Or more importantly, would it stop people purchasing and subsequently eating the Burgers? This raises an interesting question for a country which seems to be contradictory in their attitudes to Horse meat.
So why is it that we in Britain do not partake in consuming the meat of equine animals to the extent that we do with Cows, Pigs and Chickens for example? Well, simply stated it appears that it is the notion that Horses are domesticated animals which makes people reluctant to eat their meat. Therefore it is the emotional connotations in addition to the historically significant role of the Horse to agriculture and transportation in this country, which attributes the consumption of Horse meat with the taboo it seems to have today.
…the mistreatment of Horses…
The contradiction in this argument, I believe lies in the fact that abattoirs are still active within Britain which export their meat abroad for consumption, namely the example of the abattoir in Nantwich which has received a lot of negative press for the mistreatment of Horses in recent weeks.
As well as this, there is also the fact that traditionally and still to this day, Rabbits are eaten widely in Britain, however does this not carry the same emotional connotations? In addition, in modern times, Ducks have become more and more domesticated with increased numbers of people keeping them as pets, so does this also call into question the morality of consuming these traditional meats too? All in all it has been a rather unfortunate time to be a British Horse.