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PaulS's picture

A Findus lasagne anyone?

A Findus lasagne anyone?

My article in today’s Cornish Guardian concentrates on the ‘horse meat’ food processing scandal. It is as follows:

At the beginning of last week, I was rushing between meetings and knew that I would fleetingly be at home at midday.

I stopped off to grab something for dinner and splashed out £1.29 on a “special price” Findus frozen “Beef Lasagne,” that I could quickly throw into a microwave.

I wasn’t expecting a gastronomic delight, but the packaging did state it was “made with three layers of fresh pasta, beef bolognese, bechamel sauce and cheddar.” It also claimed that “our pasta and bolognese are freshly made and quickly frozen to ensure that you get the best taste.”

Within two days, along with millions of other people, I was less-than-impressed to see the very same packaging featured on the six o’clock news, when it was discovered that certain beef lasagnes contained no beef at all but up to 100% horse meat.

It is manifestly clear that politicians have failed to reassure the general public about what has happened. Interviewed on Sky News, Government minister Owen Paterson argued that “he would be perfectly happy to eat a frozen ready-meal lasagne for his Friday night dinner” – though I doubt that many people can picture him tucking into a £1.29 lasagne after a busy week of pushing Coalition policies.

Indeed, he said that the issue was not one of “public safety” but “labelling.” Paterson told reporters that “what is absolutely totally unacceptable to us all is that there should be products marked as processed beef, which contain significant amounts of processed horse.” He later claimed that the whole debacle stemmed from either “gross incompetence” or an “international criminal conspiracy.”

What I think this scandal highlights most of all is the unregulated, almost shady, manner in which certain food products have been prepared for shops and supermarkets.

One newspaper columnist summed it up rather well for me. She rightly described how the scandal has “opened a window on the hidden unsavoury food world, in which live animals are transported vast distances across borders for slaughter, before being stripped down to constituent parts to be shipped back again in blocks of frozen offcuts that may be stored for months on end before being ground down to unrecognisable ingredients in our everyday meals.”

The regulation of the food processing industry in continental Europe is clearly inadequate, and the British Government needs to do more to make sure that the testing of food products on sale in the UK is greatly increased.

Last Friday, when rushing between meetings, I didn’t buy a lasagne. I chose to devour a locally-produced Cornish pasty for my dinner.

Posted by Dick Cole

What this episode demonstrates is not so much lack of regulations, of which the farming and food community have more than enough, but the immorality of globalisation, where the only thing that matters is price.

Re-localisation of farming and food production in particular, but also of manufacturing, energy production, services and other activities is where we need to go in the future.

Stripping corporations of their pseudo person identity is also an essential step towards those behind any form of business bearing personal responsibility for whatever that business does or does not do, up to and including the application of criminal law to the people hiding behind the corporate mask.