Almost everyone reading this will have resorted to heating up a ready meal at some point in their life. And I bet nearly all of us have eaten a mass produced burger at some point or other. We think of fast food as being convenient but the recent revelations of at best, cross contamination and at worst, outright fraud, are making it look less than appetising.
I have never (knowingly) eaten horse meat and never (knowingly) would - simply because I've been aware of the slaughter issues for some time. Horses are large (and scary) animals and as a result get brutalised during the slaughter process to an extent, that say sheep, don't. They are also highly intelligent and have the ability to grieve. I once saw a horse in a field mourning a dead badger and standing watch over the body.
There's nothing wrong with eating horse meat in principle. It is just the manner in which they are transported and dispatched which I object to. So, if some good comes out of Shergargate, it is that the British public might wake up to the live export issue. And it is not just the UK. In the Pays Basque, the hillsides are dotted with cute looking horses and ponies. In our house these are referred to as ‘sausage’ ponies as they are all destined for the Italian slaughterhouses. So think about that the next time you buy a pizza topped with ‘pepperoni’ - I bet there’s some ‘sausage’ pony in there somewhere!
Personally I don't think that any animal should travel long distances to slaughter. Every town should have an abattoir but people don't like confronting the reality of where their sausages come from. I always buy French beef rather than the cheaper Polish or Dutch beef that is available in all French supermarkets and try to shop ethically and locally but it is difficult.
But with news now emerging that there is a lot of potentially contaminated Romanian horse meat in the food chain, I’m going to be inspecting my ‘beef’ very, very closely. And making my own burgers. And avoiding fast food. How about you?