Sunday, February 10, 2013

Am I the only one...  

To see a market opportunity for US beef in Europe right now? The Great European Horsemeat Scandal could just be beginning.
The source of the horsemeat that ended up in beef factories in Ireland and France before being processed into food for British and Irish supermarkets is still unclear. ABP told us it had never knowingly imported horsemeat to its factory and was cooperating with investigators. It initially blamed its continental European suppliers and denied that any of the suspect material came from its own factory in Poland, pointing the finger at other Polish suppliers. Tests on meat from five Polish abattoirs identified from paper records as part of the ABP supply chain came back negative, however, and official Polish veterinary staff suggested the British and Irish look closer to home.
The trail moved rapidly through the week from Poland, back to a cold store for frozen meat in Newry, Northern Ireland, called Freeza Meats, where a large consignment, already quarantined and removed from the food chain by the authorities for irregularities, was found to contain 80% horsemeat.
A spokesman for Freeza Meats' owners told us they had refused to buy the meat because they were suspicious of its state and the accuracy of its labelling with Polish healthmarks, and were merely holding it in store as a "goodwill" gesture for the company that had sent it to them, McAdam Foods.
ABP acknowledged that it had on occasion bought Polish meat "in good faith" for the factory that made the dodgy burgers for Tesco, Burger King and other retailers, from McAdam Foods. But ABP and McAdam could not agree what had been bought when. McAdam in turn passed the blame for the horsemeat to one of its suppliers, saying it had sourced the 80% horse consignment which ended up in Freeza Meats from a Hull-based company called Flexi Foods, which in turn has operations in Poland.
Neither McAdam nor Flexi Foods were answering their phones when the Guardian made repeated attempts to contact them. The French manufacturer Comigel did not respond to requests for comment.
With the next vast round of new tests due in next week, few expect the horse meat scandal to end here. [More]
Of course, we're not so much a ground beef exporter as higher level cuts, but still, the marketing campaigns almost write themselves:
  • All the hormones, but none of the horse
  •  Beef from America, from American cows. Only.
Then again, it's not like we're doing DNA testing on lasagna here at home. Meanwhile, the enormous problem of disposing of unwanted horses - who happen to be made of edible stuff, remember - is bringing pressure to alter the emotionally-driven ban on horse slaughter.
 Rural U.S. lawmakers with ties to the cattle industry and economically-strapped horse breeding registries have been pushing to reopen horse slaughterhouses since the last three plants shut down in 2007 (two in Texas, one in Illinois).
On Tuesday, February 5, 2013, they're poised to try again in Oklahoma when a new bill sponsored by state Senator Mark Allen (SB375) is scheduled for a second reading in the state's Agriculture and Rural Development Committee. Allen's bill would overturn Oklahoma's existing 1963 ban on selling and producing horsemeat.
Representative Skye McNiel is also pushing to overturn the ban with another bill, HB1999.
What's behind it are 140,000-150,000 U.S. horses that are now being slaughtered in Canada and Mexico for the EU and Japan plus about 45,000 mustangs unwisely removed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) from public lands and warehoused at taxpayer expense, many in long-term holding pens in Oklahoma.
Quite a few people in the meat trade are pushing to weaken laws that would allow them to legally buy and sell these protected wild horses at a large profit to slaughter plants. (In fact, they've been doing this illegally for some time, as revealed in the National Journal article, "Is the U.S. Government Complicit in the Killing of Over 1,000 Wild Horses?" as well as in an investigation reported on in The Desert Independent).
They also want to slaughter horses disposed of by racetracks, rodeos, horse breeders and owners struggling in the recession -- a surplus market that has made the actual raising of horses as meat animals (the way cattle are) completely unnecessary in the U.S. for decades.
Sen. Allen's and Rep. McNiel's bills are trying to harness that business for their home state, which ranks fourth in the nation in horse ownership per capita and bills itself as the "horse show capital of the U.S."
It also happens to have several struggling racetracks as well as a large cattle industry--same as in Ireland and the UK. They don't raise horses for meat over there, either. [More]
The above source is mildly slanted, IMHO, to be sure, but I'm sure legislators and the equine industry trying to solve this problem were just thrilled to see this blunder across the pond. Great timing, you bozos!

But this fraud does help in one very perverse way: it reinforces the truth that horses are edible. In a protein-short world, burying and burning enormous amounts of nourishment derived at great environmental expense is absurd. Especially when there are people willing to eat it.

There was no health hazard involved, just straightforward substitution larceny. The
bigger question for me is how much expansion this scandal has left.

But it may be a problem for US cattlemen to benefit from the fiasco simply because of our domestic shortage of lean beef needed to mix with corn-fed trimmings to get to the modern standard for hamburger - 80/20. That's one of the reasons we came up with LFTB, after all. (It is ~ 95% lean) It could also be a small factor for the mixing in Europe as horsemeat is generally leaner than beef.

Then there is the whole EU-beef trade battle whichwill outlive me. And the latest on antibiotic use in animals isn't really a selling point either.

[Source] [Click to enlarge]

DNA-testing - it's not just for paternity tests anymore.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm no smart guy, John...but couldn't you argue that the increased use of antibiotics in animals is actually the reason that we need less/same antibiotics in people? Healthier animals = healthier food = healthier people? Probably flaws there, but something that bounced into my head...