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 I think 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 horsemeat takes this gentleman’s agreement to a whole new level.
I have absolutely no aversion to horses, apart from the large ones that always seem to have a strange interest in me when I walk past them. I have never eaten one, although I am more than willing to try. The French highly recommend it, and it’s low in calories, saturated fat and cholesterol, which fits snuggly into my post-Christmas health kick. However, horsemeat 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. I always buy my meat from my local butcher. I find it 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 I am buying. 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 we have some fantastic burger recipes on our website. This one is my particular favourite – the Parmesan cheese and tarragon really adds something to the recipe.
I like to add a dash of soy sauce to mine, along with some crunchy cornflakes, chopped chilli, parsley and grated Cheddar. Beautiful burgers are the new cupcakes, so why not join in and cook something that supports your local butcher, gets your taste buds excited and sidesteps the possibility of eating horse.