|Spot the difference|
Now the two main angles that this story seems to have taken so far are (a) the horsemeat thing; and (b) the foreign meat/crime thing. I would argue that there is actually an interesting and even shocking story waiting to be told, but it remains to be seen whether we actually get told it.
But first, let's look at the stories that are being told. The first one, the disgust at eating horsemeat is a bit odd to me. Now I don't eat meat, so I'm a little biased here, perhaps, but I've never really understood why it is that some animals are food and some animals are not. If you're going to eat mammals, what's the big difference between horse, cow, pig, dog, lamb, cat or aardvark? I don't get it. Obviously a lot of people do eat horse, and I'm sure it tastes fine if you like that sort of thing. Why it's somehow disgusting and inedible to people who were happy imagining that their burgers were made purely out of cow, is sort of beyond me.
The crime angle is a bit more interesting, I suppose. The idea that the mafia are able to make so much money out of substituting horse carcass for cow at some point along the supply chain is quite intriguing. But you know organised crime gangs are responsible for a lot of stuff, most of which is significantly worse than this (and I imagine significantly more lucrative than this)
But what should be of interest to people (and I'm guessing it won't ever really be the main story, because there are too many vested interests) is the fact that meat has this complex a supply chain in the first place. Broadly speaking if you buy cheap meat, whether it's in burgers, sausages, frozen ready meals, or whatever other form, then you're buying something that comes from an unknown source. It might be loads of bits of meat from various different places - from a Polish abattoir, mixed with something from Romania, for example and which is mixed up and sold on through various different middlemen before it ends up in Tesco or McDonalds or wherever. I'm also using the word "meat" loosely here. It's not the kind of meat you'd be eating if you could see what it was anyway. Those cuts of meat are sold as they are, because people will buy them. Your burgers and so on are made from the bits of meat they can't otherwise sell. The bits of carcass and skin and offal and hair and feet and arseholes and everything else that is otherwise unsellable. All of that ground up (or "mechanically reclaimed") and then formed into your big mac or whatever else it is. If you're eating that stuff, that is indeed what you are eating. Complaining that it comes from a horse is missing the real point spectacularly. You should be complaining about which bits of the horse are in it.
As a vegetarian I tend to be painted as some kind of hair-shirted evangelical nutjob. I don't think I am one of them at all. I do get that people enjoy eating meat. But if you are going to, really, I think you need to pay a little more attention where it comes from and how it's been processed
(Supply chain udpate: "It came from abattoirs in Romania through a dealer in Cyprus working through another dealer in Holland to a meat plant in the south of France which sold it to a French-owned factory in Luxembourg which made it into frozen meals sold in supermarkets in 16 countries." That comes from this article which also makes the shocking claim that horse carts have been banned from the roads in Romania. Despite all evidence to the contrary on the actual roads themselves)