Friday, 8 February 2013

100% Massproduced Horse-sh** - Guaranteed

In the wake of Tescos and a string of other retailers being found to have horse rather than beef meat in a growing number of their beef products, jokes have abounded - photo shopped pictures of cows complaining about horses coming over from France and stealing their jobs; Youtube videos of people in pantomime horse costumes going into supermarkets shouting "Mum! Dad! Where are you?"; and even references to the recently exhumed King Richard III having perished because when he offered up his kingdom for a horse, someone turned up with a Findus lasagne instead.
Great value - but for who exactly?
All very droll. But tonight, making the sickest joke of all, the Prime Minister has told the nation that the issue is that people are being misled about what is in their food. It is not a health and safety issue, Mr Cameron assures us, but a shocking betrayal of cultural sensitivities where British people don't eat horses, preferring instead to slaughter cows - whose inoffensive, perhaps rather dull nature makes them fine for killing and consumption. On the other hand, horses are far too nice to eat it seems, unless you are some nasty French person.

But not for the first time, of course, Mr Cameron is wrong on so many levels.

Firstly, how is it not a health and safety issue when what is in a box of food turns out to be something other than it is meant to be? If someone is flogging untraceable dead horses and calling their carcass offcuts beef, just exactly how careful and hygienic have they been with their sourcing of the meat? Environment Secretary Owen Patterson says he is sure criminals have been involved - so how on earth can the Government be so off-hand about the safety of the material put in these food products? Moreover, many, many horses are frequently given anti-inflammatory phenylbutazone drugs that stay long in their system and are significantly carcinogenic, increasing the risk of cancer in any humans consuming horse meat. The health risks cannot be ruled out so lightly.

Secondly, it is ingenuous to complain that people are being sold a lie if there is horse instead of cow in their Tesco burgers or Findus beef lasagnes. Yes, of course it is deceitful to replace one meat with another; but the real lie is all the other stuff that is quite legally in ready meals and processed "food" sold by our supermarkets. It may be on the label, but nearly no one buying them has a clue what it is - amazingly, they trust the authorities and even the supermarkets to sell them food that is safe. It is perhaps the impact of "horsegate" on this blind trust that worries food retailers and the Government they fund most.

Beef burgers can contain legally as little as 62% beef to bear the name, with a pile of other really cheap and nasty stuff to bind and preserve it making up the rest - bones, gristle and guts. This filler was what the horse meat in Tescos beef burgers was found in . Sometimes, burgers even contain the faecal matter of the dead animals ground up to make the binder substance. And so with nearly every other item of the ready meals and processed foodstuffs peddled by the four huge supermarkets, and the smaller ones too, that have over 90% of our food supply sown up.

Not what it seems?
A current supermarket advert, seemingly rushed out to counter the worries that the public won't eat beef meat because they can't be sure it really is, posits the fantasy of them being so committed to traditional British meat that, gosh, they have their own farm, complete with happy cows licking the celebrities fronting the advert. What they don't tell you is that the public image of  the little idyllic farm is now largely a myth - supermarkets do have farms; lots of them, huge big ones that have turned parts of the country into poor imitations of the American prairies, destroying communities and centuries of farming traditions, industrialising our food on an unprecedented scale. In other cases, they invent farms to trick consumers into buying what they think is premium food harvested from some sort of quality estate, like Tescos non-existent Willow Farm and M&S's equally fictitious "Lochmiur" (try finding it on a map!) And as for the cows, don't be fooled - dairy cows only produce milk because their calves have been taken away and slaughtered while still feeding from their mothers.

As the video below shows, if you can stomach it,the food chain is now on an unbelievable and wholly artificial scale from start to finish.

The current government, as with the previous one, happily colludes with all of this. It is significant that we only know about the horse meat because the Irish Food Agency identified and alerted the UK Government to it. This is because, in spite of their faux claims to be champions of the consumer, the Con Dem Government took responsibility for food safety inspection away from the Food Standards Agency and devolved it to local government and reduced the inspection requirements, supposedly to cut red tape. 

The third lie, though not articulated by Cameron today but rooted deep in the popular psyche, is that supermarkets are cheap and convenient. But in fact, like for like, several surveys have shown that food is cheaper in local markets - and where is the convenience in having to drive sometimes miles to wander round a huge supermarket collecting thickly packaged food?

Yet deceit and duplicity is the whole story of corporate retailed food - exemptions by every Government from the monopoly rules applied to other sectors (so that one in every five pounds spent in the UK on any type of product at all is spent in Tescos); deregulation of planning rules (sometimes after effective blackmail, other times via effective bribery) to allow them to build huge out of town sheds that have sucked the lifeblood out of all too many town centres; and ever-laxer rules on the content and safety of what they sell. All underpinned by cheap and even free labour courtesy of Government "training" schemes.

So we can't expect any genuine action from Cameron and his cronies on this, nor from Labour - both parties have received substantial funding from the supermarkets and will not effectively challenge them. Instead we will be sold the story that action is being taken to ensure the current fiasco can't happen again, while all along the huge corporations that own our food supply continue to bastardise it into standardised gunk and sell us a lie as they keep filling their shareholders' pockets and emptying ours.

And as for us? Well, in the end, by sheer biological fact, you are what you eat.

Further links:Tescopoly website, click here
                       "Eat All You Can" Viridis Lumen post, click here
                        Green Party Food Policy, click here

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