Saturday, February 09, 2013

Eat Shit

A Luxembourg-based scandal over mislabeled horsemeat lasagna is growing at a gallop.

As the story gets fleshed-out, we're told the UK's Food Standards Agency (FSA) demanded companies test their meat products for adulteration. But according to the FSA website (link): "Tests will be for the presence of significant levels of horse meat." Note the key weasel-words "significant levels"...  And what of significance testing for other creatures & critters?  They should also inform the meat-eating public about levels of phenylbutazone ("bute"), an anti-inflammatory drug no longer approved for human use, but still prescribed for horses & dogs.

We're also told of today's (Sat. 9 Feb) "urgent" emergency DEFRA Summit (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) discussing adulteration of the food chain and rising public concerns. The BBC reports those attending included:
  • Environment Secretary Owen Patterson
  • Food and Drink Federation (Findus is a member)
  • Federation of Wholesale Distributors
  • British Retail Consortium
  • Tesco
  • Sainsbury's
  • Asda
  • Institute of Grocery Directors
  • British Meat Processors Association
  • Co-operative Food 
The Independent notes "Major supermarket chains are at the talks, as well as retail, distribution and consumer groups. Marks & Spencer, Waitrose and Lidl were all invited but did not turn up."

In past food scandals, the UK government has reassured consumers about safety when in fact government officials did not know shit. Because this stance supports producer interest, it's important we ask which consumer groups were at today's DEFRA summit? Remember well the broken trust when the UK Agriculture Minister (John Gummer, now the ennobled Baron Deben of Winston) tried to reassure a public scared about vCJD BSE. He sought to feed a beefburger to his four-year old daughter Cordelia in front of the press, asserting we had "no need to be worried" though in fact there was danger.

If supplies do threaten safety - will we ever hear about it?
What if meat products contain something worse than horse ?   
Animal shelters and mortuaries can also supply cheap meat.