In mid-January it was found that four major UK supermarkets have been stacking their shelves with beef burgers and other beef products contaminated with horse and pig DNA. By buying “value” products, people enter a gentleman’s understanding with these supermarkets that things may not be exactly as they seem. However, discovering that some of these particular products contain horse meat takes this gentleman’s agreement to a whole new level.
There should be no particular aversion to eating horse meat, The French highly recommend it, and it’s low in calories, saturated fat and cholesterol, which can make it health meal if prepared correctly. However, horse meat is not something that regularly features on British dinner tables, which makes it both an unknown and an instant headline. A larger number of products tested also contained high levels of pig DNA, which seems to have cause less uproar, but what about people who abstain from eating any pork products because of their religion?
The most important question is how these products got contaminated in the first place. Did these major supermarket chains put the products on their shelves knowing full well that their burgers might well be high in Shergar? Or were they in the dark like the rest of us? This scandal could break the delicate trust we had in major chains and highlights the issues with buying ready-made, mass-produced food. It feels now like you can’t even trust what’s on the label of the products you buy.
The easiest solution is to not buy them. Instead, take this opportunity to visit the little guys – the local butcher! It can be highly rewarding to be able to talk one-to-one with someone who is passionate about the meat they sell, and it’s great to know (and trust) exactly what is in the product. And by buying cheaper cuts of meat, it doesn’t have to break the bank either.
And when it comes to burgers, why would you want to buy a ready-made who-knows-what’s-in-it-horse burger in the first place? By making your own, you will know EXACTLY what you’re eating. If you buy good-quality mince from your butcher, the possibilities for making the tasty burgers are endless – experiment with other flavours (not just horse and pig) by using different styles of mustards, spices, herbs and chillies, even beer is brilliant to behold on your first bite. To start you off here’s a Jamie Oliver recipe – The parmesan cheese and tarragon really adds something to the recipe.