They Are At It Again

Yes, those despicable food suppliers are at it again. Deceiving Joe Public the most gullible of shoppers.

Just recently we have had the shock horror of discovering horse in those cheap supermarket own brand beefburgers. God only knows what else is in those burgers, but now we KNOW there is horse.  This was followed with the amazing disclosure that Findus have near 100% horse-flesh content in their lasagna. It’s obviously not a bad thing as presumably Joe Public was happily buying and consuming this product. Joe’s sensitive and discerning palate didn’t notice a change in flavour or texture, perhaps because there was none.

Joe Public is obviously getting bored with the horsey story which, after all,  has been running for a couple of weeks. Bit like all the horses I’ve ever backed.  Anyway, in their rush to keep the ball rolling the Daily Mail is now initiating a belated crusade to alert us to the underhand tricks that food manufacturers employ to hide the real content of their products.

For instance, did you know that well-known brands Ferrero Rocher and Lindt are high in sugar and fat ?

I mean, come on ! Is there a single dumb idiot on this planet that doesn’t know that sweets and chocolates all contain vast amounts of substances that are bad for your health. That those sweet canned drinks rot your teeth. The point is they don’t care. They buy them because they like them and the products make them feel good.

Furthermore, the Daily Mail would have you believe that  those nefarious food manufacturers are deliberately hiding ingredient information behind peel back labels. The implication being that Joe Public is too lazy to peel back the label, too lazy to read the ingredient information. In this I sympathise with the manufacturer.

On the one hand they are jockeying for brand position on the supermarket shelves. They are desperate to get their brand in the most prominent eye-catching position. On the other they are having to meet the ever-increasing and ever-changing regulations. Regulations which vary from country to country and in some countries from state to state. These regulations require more and more information to be displayed and declared while at the same time the available label space is either unchanged or in some cases is actually reducing as Joe Public and the legislators declare war on waste. So in this the manufacturers are between the rock and the proverbial hard place.  There is a real likely hood of the brand name being forced off the product just to show the regulatory information. Won’t that look pretty.

In addition the Daily Mail, further casts aspersions about Joe Public and his IQ. Claiming that the food manufacturers are trying to confuse poor old Joe by hiding behind the true chemical names of substances found in our food. Has the Daily Mail forgotten that Joe attended school where, certainly in my day, they taught such things. i.e. Sodium / Salt, Sugar /Carbohydrate. Perhaps the Daily Mail should be lining up for another attack on the educational standards of our schools.

Or perhaps they should run a campaign to get the supermarkets put up handy conversion guide over their shelves to help us poor thick shoppers.

Eating horse is not the problem

The brouhaha continues. I’m sure that some of you have watched, with increasing amazement, as our media throw themselves into winding up Joe Public over the “shock horror” of the presence of horse-flesh in the “beef” burgers being sold by some of our supermarkets. Now we are informed that a well-known brand is serving us with near 100% horse-flesh in what they like to call lasagna.

When Joe is doing his weekly shop, probably the last thing he does is study the ingredients list on his pack of burgers, especially if he is buying supermarket own brand in preference to premium brands. In the current era of rising prices I suspect the pound in the pocket is the driving force and Joe would, probably, rather not know the truly diverse nature of the contents of the average burger.

What has really irritated me with all the coverage is the suggestion that including horsemeat is some kind of contamination. The supermarkets fell over themselves to clear their shelves yet it appears they may have been selling burgers with horse supplement for some time. Only this morning there was a suggestion from one breakfast TV pundit that there was a risk to the public from the heavy-duty veterinary medications that might have been used on horses. Did this bright spark actually stop to consider the amount of drugs regularly administered to cows, sheep, pigs, turkeys, ducks and chickens which find their way onto our tables.

No, indeed the big sin was that nobody told us that our burgers and lasagna contained a trace of horse. Oh, OK, was all horse.

I’m pretty sure that the supermarkets missed a trick here. What they should have done was put up signs, over the freezers containing the Dobbin Burgers, declaring “May Contain Horse”. Then marked the prices down. I’m sure the freezers would have been emptied in no time.

So, as the mails Michael Hanlon says, Eating horse is not the problem

But that said, diets do seem to be going downhill so how can we be sure about the quality of what we are eating?

We can’t but there are some simple rules you can follow to at least give yourself a chance of avoiding the most disgusting stuff out there.

Firstly, load your shopping basket with as much stuff as possible that does not have a ‘nutrition’ label. Generally (and there are exceptions, milk and so forth) anything that gives you a list of figures on the packet saying how healthy it is will be less healthy than anything that doesn’t. This advice does not apply in American supermarkets, who seem unable to avoid labeling everything with calorie content, fat content and so on, including bottled water, dish cloths and electric lightbulbs.

Realistically, this means buying meat that looks like actual meat – red stringy stuff that has fat and maybe even bone attached – plus fresh fruit and vegetables. It means buying bread that comes in a bag made of paper not polythene, and buying butter rather than margarine (which, as one chemistry wag once put it, is ‘one molecule away from plastic’). It means buying juice made of squashed fruits rather than ‘concentrates’ and remembering that an awful lot of stuff that has been frozen needs to have synthetic chemicals added to it to make it taste good again.

Buy horse, by all means (if you can find it) but make sure it has been labelled as such. And remember that if you really want to eat cheap burgers (and surely life is too short for that) then the presence of a bit of old nag will be the least of the horrors that lurk within.

By the way,has anyone drawn the link between missing racehorse Shergar and the well-known food suppliers brand name “Find Us”…Could be a secret message from our missing animal friends .

Eating horse is not the problem – Mail Online – Michael Hanlon’s Science blog: From The Cutting Edge.