Horse meat burgers and other stuff…. « kirstenhwhyte

Kirsten pinged my blog with a comment on my post of yesterday and since I think it is a valid comment, I have linked to it here:

Horse meat burgers and other stuff…. « kirstenhwhyte.

Please go and read it before you get any further, or you won’t know what I’m blithering on about.

Ok? Been and gone and had a read. Great, so I will continue with –


I do agree with her up to a point – but we should all be aware that a commercially produced packet beefburger rarely has 100% beef, even if that’s implied on the outside. There are always preservatives and so on which form some part of the product. And we are daft if we think that the price doesn’t reflect what’s inside. Price will always reflect what’s on the inside.

So will brand. Those brands which are less well known have less to lose when their products are found to be yucky than those with a reputation to keep up.

And packaging and labelling in this country is a disgrace. You need a degree in evasion and lying to get around it.

‘Produced in the UK’ can pretty much mean anything, even that it was just packed here. If you look up the trading standards definitions of what is allowed not only in the products, but what is allowed in the labelling, you will probably get a shock.

Kirsten cites her coeliac disease as a worry and I totally agree with her that it is – because we cannot rely on what we are told. I sympathise with her. I am not coeliac, but currently have a severe problem with wheat which is giving me similar symptoms and I am following the same regime. I don’t eat dairy either, so am always scouring the packet descriptions, but unless I buy fresh ingredients and cook it myself, I don’t think I can totally rely on anything on the label.

We do have bad labelling, we do have manufacturers who put profit above all else and our regulations pretty much allow them to do just that.

In the end, we get the food we pay for and the rules and regulations that the people we vote for put in place. And vested interest plays a huge role here.

That vested interest, bad labelling and willingness for some manufacturers to put profit above all else are the price we pay for cheap food. And let’s be realistic: that food was really, really cheap. We are told often that there is no such thing as a free lunch: maybe there is no such thing as cheap food without strings. 

You might like to take a look at the bbc News Magazine where Rose Prince, a food journalist and author, says British people prefer not to think about it:

“Supermarkets are battling with each other to be the cheapest, and demanding better and better deals from their suppliers.

“One shouldn’t imagine that supermarkets are knowledgeable about exactly what is found in every product, but this does risk compromising their credibility.”

We have a right to expect traceability and good labelling helps with that, but this government moved responsibility for these back to DEFRA – which we know is over-stretched and under-funded. Tests were done in Ireland, not here, because we no longer test in the same way, a fact that manufacturers surely know and surely take advantage of.


8 responses to “Horse meat burgers and other stuff…. « kirstenhwhyte

  1. I agree with what you’ve said 🙂 I missed out the bit about price. I don’t buy the cheap ones and it is possible to get commercially produced burgers that are 100% beef (excluding the seasoning), but you do have to hunt for them and be prepared to read thousands of lists of ingredients (and be able to decipher them). Plus pay the price. The whole thing is a minefield.
    On a different note entirely – are you dairy free out of choice or because you can’t tolerate it? I was dairy-free for ages because I thought it was causing my symptoms but I recently discovered that those with a wheat/gluten sensitivity often think it is dairy causing the problem because the wheat/gluten stops your body processing it properly. Once you cut out the wheat/gluten, dairy is no longer an issue.

    • That’s really interesting re the dairy. It’s not by choice, but I get migraine from some dairy products. I have terrible IBS at the moment and the coeliac diet seems to be helping a bit, so that’s why I’m trying it. But to be fair, everything seems to be causing it just now…. I seem to have got into a vicious cycle and can’t quite clear it up. Going gluten free seems to be the best thing I can do at the moment.

      • I completely understand your frustration. It got to the point where I thought I was going to have to exist off carrots and water for the rest of my life because everything else I ate seemed to have some detrimental effect. I found that keeping a food diary helped as well as noting not just what I ate, but also when the symptoms started to appear, but it is a game of trial and error to some extent. I hope you find the cause of it. I know how hard it can be – not just identifying the problem, but also resisting temptation once you do. Sometimes I stand in the Bakery section of Waitrose for a few minutes just inhaling the smell (I would sniff the actual bread but I think people would look at me a bit weird, even if I did explain why I was doing it)! If you do decide wheat / gluten free is best for you and you want some receipes for cakes that don’t taste like cardboard, let me know. I’ve perfected a few!

        • Thanks, but can’t face cake much at the moment. Just trying to keep body and soul together with meat or fish veg and potatoes. Threw caution to the winds on Friday and had (chip shop) scampi and chips. Bad bad idea. Paying for it still!
          I will sort it out though. Just going to take a bit of time.

  2. I too spend hours scouring the labels – and often advice those standing next to me – it’s amazing how little people know about labels, and the evasions and ‘foodspeak’ used to fool us. Food in this country UK is so cheap and has been for so long people squeal every time it goes up – but go up will it continue to do and as food security grows ever more difficult they will one day soar.
    I eat ostridge, delicious, the general public are ostridges – they do not wan’t to have concious bothered, nor are they willling to give up anything for a better good. It has always been thus and this old lady despairs of it improving anytime soon:(

    • I think you’re right. We have a weird attitude to food here. Not willing to pay a fair price for what is an absolute necessity. I love a bargain, but I won’t compromise. I’d rather eat a free range corn fed chicken than a factory farmed one, prefer free range eggs bought from a guy along the road to caged bird eggs from the supermarket and so on. And a cheap burger full of I don’t know what I can do without.

  3. I spend a lot of time looking at labels because I also have a wheat intolerance – it’s amazing how many things contain wheat (even some chocolate) 😦

What are your thoughts on this? Do tell...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s