Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Food Scandals

There is much to report on regarding food safety and faulty labeling (or no labeling), both in France and the United States. As we abandon our national cultures and national cuisines, and as our confidence in the agricultural and political authorities whose job it is to protect us rapidly wanes, we become the victims of producers, distributors, local merchants and global traffickers of toxic waste, known more familiarly as "food". This article from Novopress, dated February 16, summarizes:

This week, revelations about the meat on our plates have reached a crescendo. Earlier in the week traces of horse meat had been found in frozen lasagna supposedly made with beef. Two days ago, phenylbutazone, a powerful equine pain killer, forbidden to humans as well as to horses destined for human consumption, turned up in three horse carcasses from British slaughterhouses that were scheduled to be shipped to France.

Concomitant with the presence of horse meat in products made by the French company Spanghero, Le Parisien also revealed the dubious connections of that company with a trader convicted in January 2012 of fraud for having sold South American horse meat that he passed off as beef. Spanghero denied having knowledge of horse meat in the ingredients its suppliers delivered, but last night France Info revealed it had information from the investigators of fraudulent practices (DGCCRF) that numerous invoices bearing the very visible code for horse meat, a code that the company could not be unaware of, were found in the company's factory in Castelnaudary.

Meanwhile, the major health scandal involving halal and kosher continues. We should remind everyone that slaughter in accordance with a barbaric ritual that causes the animal to suffer can result in the presence in meat of a deadly bacteria, Escherichia coli. The bulk of this meat ends up in the main stream meat supply, with no labeling, because the French government refuses to label despite numerous requests. Consumers do not know the origin or the dangers of this meat, by means of which, without realizing it, they pay a fee to the mosques and synagogues.

Note: Regarding the United States and kosher, I do not know if meat left over from slaughter is put back into the main stream. As far as labeling is concerned kosher foods are labeled as such. This is not necessarily true of halal. For example, we know New Zealand lamb is at least 70% halal, but it is not labeled.

I've said many times, buy from a local farmer or a very trustworthy store (not necessarily Whole Foods).

In another food-related problem, the European Union has authorized animal meal as food for farmed fish:

(…) Farmed fish could therefore once again be fed with pork and chicken meal beginning June 1. We should recall that this type of unnatural feeding had led to the "mad cow" disease crisis, that resulted in the slaughter of a considerable number of bovines forcibly transformed into carnivores.

The article goes on to warn that the European Commission has plans to extend this practice to more animals bred for industry. The Commission intends to reintroduce animal meal made from pork and chicken for the purpose of feeding poultry and pigs, with the restriction that cannibalism within a species will be forbidden.

Finally, the author advises us to use our local farms, our own gardens and organic products as the only ways to fight back.

Further reading:

CNN had an article on the horse meat scandal.

CBS has an upsetting article on the deliberate mislabeling of fish in the United States (this may include wild-caught varieties, which up till now were said to be safer though very expensive).

Some of you may be interested in the efforts of a British organization to mitigate the suffering of farm animals.

The painting at the top, called The Horse Market, is by the noted French artist Théodore Géricault (1791-1824).

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