Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Beef burgers? Neigh!

And so the country wakes up to find the real reason why some of those own-brand burgers and ready meals are cheaper than named brands - run out of beef; just add horse. On a lesser note they can also contain pig... well a lesser note for those of us who aren't strict Jews or Mulsims for whom eating pig is against the rules. Lawsuits ahoy perhaps?

The truly important point is that there's nothing inherently wrong with pig or horse meat (again unless you're religious) provided it's been sourced correctly; but that's the problem. Since the BSE outbreak all foods, and in particular meat products, are supposed to be subject to the tightest of scrutiny. If some disease etc. is found in a product the batch numbers should allow traceability right back to the very farm from which the meat was sourced.

What happens when meat that's not supposed to be there gets into a product? No traceability; given the rules this simply should not/could not happen having the FSAI who is supposed to be the monitor of this state that

"a plausible explanation for the presence of pig DNA in these products, due to the fact that meat from different animals is processed in the same meat plants"
is not acceptable. Personally I couldn't give a flying beep for religious sensibilities, but combine that with the problems that 'bad' meat can cause and the need to trace it means that cross-contamination should have been weeded out of the process some time ago. Machinery or people that process port shouldn't be processing beef and vice versa. Or at least shouldn't be doing so without being 'decontaminated' first.

Who's to blame? The FSA and FSAI are supposed to carry out checks on processing houses and one could say that it was such a check that brought this incident to light. Blame the government? Cuts affect all departments so have the FSA cut back on checks due to funding? The supermarkets? They rely on the FSA and the supplier. The supplier? Yep there we go; it's their fault. If every supplier behaved correctly they'd be no need for the FSA at all; so the blame has to land on them.