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View Diary: Horse meat in your burgers? Why assume this is just a UK problem? (133 comments)

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  •  Given that I'm neither a Muslim nor a Jew (26+ / 0-)

    and therefore not religiously proscribed, what exactly is the problem with eating horse? (I mean, other than the obvious truth-in-labelling issue that horseburgers should be clearly advertised as such.) They seem no less inherently appetizing than any other creature we eat.

    Visit Lacking All Conviction, your patch of grey on those too-sunny days.

    by eataTREE on Fri Feb 01, 2013 at 12:30:28 PM PST

    •  i'm not sure. (11+ / 0-)

      it's a cultural thing. Some cultures do eat horse meat in Europe and elsewhere and some find it totally nasty.

      I'm just not that bothered by this.

      relax relate release

      by terrypinder on Fri Feb 01, 2013 at 12:38:03 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  For me the problem is how it got there (6+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      a2nite, eataTREE, Lujane, OldDragon, trumpeter, kurt

      Are people at the processing plant so dim they can't tell a horse from a cow? In general horse meat is more expensive than beef, at least food grade horse meat. It's not a regular commodity. So the likelihood is someone wanted to dispose of a "downed" or sick animal carcass and threw it in the mix.

      What's wrong with America? I'll tell you. Everything Romney said was pre-chewed wads of cud from Republicans from the last 30 years and yet he managed thru a combination of racism and selling the (false) hope of riches to get 47% of the national vote.

      by ontheleftcoast on Fri Feb 01, 2013 at 12:40:28 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Or, it might be that they didn't clean the grinder (7+ / 0-)

        and the source is contamination from a prior batch of ground meat. Not likely to happen in US facilities unless it's imported from Mexico; I don't think there are any meat plants in the US that can legally butcher horses.

        -7.25, -6.26

        We are men of action; lies do not become us.

        by ER Doc on Fri Feb 01, 2013 at 12:51:55 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Could be cross contamination (8+ / 0-)

          But that begs the question of what else could be transferred thru such a process. Face it, industrial food processing isn't a friend of anyone but the corporations who use it to drive down their costs to maximize their profits. Sure, we get "cheap" food, but in every possible sense of the word.

          What's wrong with America? I'll tell you. Everything Romney said was pre-chewed wads of cud from Republicans from the last 30 years and yet he managed thru a combination of racism and selling the (false) hope of riches to get 47% of the national vote.

          by ontheleftcoast on Fri Feb 01, 2013 at 12:55:25 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  That wouldn't happen here (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            badscience, ER Doc

            While smaller butchers might process different animals (deer or a home raised steer or pig), large plants in the US only handle one type of animal.
            The plant in Ireland making the burgers probably wasn't a slaughter plant but bought meat from different suppliers.

            “We are not a nation that says ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ We are a nation that says ‘out of many, we are one.’” -Barack Obama

            by skohayes on Fri Feb 01, 2013 at 03:31:15 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  I read it was imported frozen from Poland (8+ / 0-)

          by the Irish meat processor, who then mixed it into hamburger along with beef from their operations.

          You can't even export horses from the US without certifying they won't be used for food - unless you export them by plane, which doesn't have the certification requirement (I used to read export regs when bored).

          Modern revolutions have succeeded because of solidarity, not force.

          by badger on Fri Feb 01, 2013 at 12:55:44 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Oh, and thank Obama for adding horse meat (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Mr Robert, Lujane, kurt

          back to the American diet...

          Kitchens across the country could start serving up horse meat in just weeks since Congress recently lifted a 5-year ban on funding horse meat inspections, the AP reported.

          The move, which went by nearly undetected, was buried in a Nov. 18 spending bill signed into law by President Obama on Nov. 18.

          Congress originally cut off horse meat inspections in 2006, which basically obliterated the possibility for a commercial horse meat use. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is required to inspect any agricultural product intended for human consumption.

          Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/...

          What's wrong with America? I'll tell you. Everything Romney said was pre-chewed wads of cud from Republicans from the last 30 years and yet he managed thru a combination of racism and selling the (false) hope of riches to get 47% of the national vote.

          by ontheleftcoast on Fri Feb 01, 2013 at 12:58:41 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Actually, that's a very good thing. (7+ / 0-)

            Here in CT, we have the highest ratio of horses per acre of any state. It's a small state and a lot of people here have a horse or two on their three acre suburban lots.
            Horses live, on average 24 years. And they don't always age gracefully.
            What do you do with a 1000 pound animal that is lame and in pain, dangerous as a result? A friend in Monroe had a neighbor that over the course of four years, buried 5 horses in his yard. As a result, wells in the neighborhood were polluted by the unregulated, uninspected graveyard. Prior to the ban (thanks PITA), those horses would have gone to the knackers and if healthy, become food for humans (in Canada and France. It used to be a valuable export business in this country) and if not prime, they'd become dog food. Shutting off the auctions, keeping these animals going was inadvertently responsible for a lot of misery both for the horses and for their humans.
            Had they gone to auction, they would not be wasted, they would not become pollution. They would not be kept alive in pain, would not become dangerous because of that pain.
            Plus, they would not cost their owners hundreds of dollars to have someone dig a BIG hole and either pay a vet or someone else to kill the animal. The owners would not have to deal with putting down an animal they had attachment to.
            Along the way, the lack of killer auctions took the floor out from under the price of horses (20 or 30 cents a pound isn't much but it means $250-300 as a base). That plus the overabundance of marginal horses made it economically impossible for many good horse breeders to stay in business.

            If I ran this circus, things would be DIFFERENT!

            by CwV on Fri Feb 01, 2013 at 02:22:41 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Very interesting point. (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Ice Blue, Ahianne, kurt

              My problem with sending a pet horse (and they are pets to many people) to the knocker is that I know way to much about that process to wish it on any animal much less a pet. Imagine doing that to your dog. Ick.

              There is room in this world for humane slaughter but we aren't there in the meat-packing industry.

              Force is the midwife of every old society pregnant with a new one. Marx

              by Marihilda on Fri Feb 01, 2013 at 02:44:15 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  American horses are often medicated (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              trumpeter, kurt

              with who knows what, especially when they're older and/or in pain.  Even if a gastronome is willing to defy the taboo, the meat may contain certain drugs that are banned in human-grade meat products.

              Any jackass can kick down a barn, but it takes a good carpenter to build one.--Sam Rayburn

              by Ice Blue on Fri Feb 01, 2013 at 03:15:57 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  I tend to agree with that (0+ / 0-)

              I've never understood the "but it's a horse" rationale for not eating them.

              What's wrong with America? I'll tell you. Everything Romney said was pre-chewed wads of cud from Republicans from the last 30 years and yet he managed thru a combination of racism and selling the (false) hope of riches to get 47% of the national vote.

              by ontheleftcoast on Fri Feb 01, 2013 at 05:40:15 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  Filler (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ER Doc, Mr Robert, Lujane, kurt

          The burgers in question were all the very cheap "value" type which by UK law are allowed to contain less than 50% beef meat, the rest being rusk, cereal, fillers and other chemicals.

          Apparently one of the fillers used was MRM based - in effect a version of "pink slime" (see http://www.huffingtonpost.com/...)  This was purchased by the Irish plant from an unauthorised supplier in central Europe.

          DNA tests are available but you have to be looking for specific species so it needs a battery of such tests to rule out contamination.

          "Who stood against President Obama in 2012?" - The trivia question nobody can answer.

          by Lib Dem FoP on Fri Feb 01, 2013 at 01:01:43 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Auction this week, horses were dirt cheap (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Mr Robert, Lujane, skohayes

        where mares that would have brought $500 2 years ago bring $100 today as there is a surplus of grade equines vs the number of people who want to own horses

        •  See my reply above (0+ / 0-)

          Apparently horse is back on the menu in the US.

          What's wrong with America? I'll tell you. Everything Romney said was pre-chewed wads of cud from Republicans from the last 30 years and yet he managed thru a combination of racism and selling the (false) hope of riches to get 47% of the national vote.

          by ontheleftcoast on Fri Feb 01, 2013 at 12:59:51 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  It's an Anglo-Saxon thing. (6+ / 0-)

      Although not particularly common, it is fairly readily available in mainland Europe. I remember my mom serving it once a week or so when I was young because it is a good source of iron.

      Repeal the 2nd amendment.

      by Calouste on Fri Feb 01, 2013 at 12:42:10 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  the argument is the level of intelligence (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      eataTREE

      horses are higher on intelligence scales than bovines for example who have been bred for stupidity and docility for generations

      •  Pigs are smarter than horses (11+ / 0-)

        A pig, for example, won't let you saddle it and ride it.

        Pigs are considered smarter than horses, although it used to be a running argument between Johnny Carson and Ed McMahon on the Tonight Show.

        Modern revolutions have succeeded because of solidarity, not force.

        by badger on Fri Feb 01, 2013 at 12:58:18 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Some cows are surprisingly smart. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        skohayes, Ahianne, kurt

        I dug this off wiki.answers:

        Cows tend to take a little longer to teach than a horse might, but then again in order to make a horse to "get it" you have to repeat, repeat, repeat. The same goes for cows, if you're teaching them to be halter-trained. Cows are as adaptable as horses are, and can learn new things about a new environment they are now "forced" to live in just like a horse would. Horses tend to get themselves in more trouble though, unlike most cows, and tend to not learn as quickly about something they should not have done in a first place than a cow would. So one can say that a cow can be as smart as a horse, if not smarter.
        So I wouldn't be quite so quick to say a horse is smarter. We just tend to put a lot of training into horses from a young age. Who knows what you could get a cow to do if you trained them from just a calf?

        For if there is a sin against life, it consists perhaps not so much in despairing of life as in hoping for another life and in eluding the implacable grandeur of this life. - Albert Camus

        by Anne Elk on Fri Feb 01, 2013 at 01:50:48 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  depends on the cow; range cattle are different (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          skohayes

          from feedlot cattle

        •  Also has to do with the breed of horse. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Ahianne, kurt

          Some breeds, like Morgans and Arabs are very smart and can be taught in a single session what you could try for ever to teach a Quarterhorse with no luck. Individual differences also apply.
          I'd have to say that most horses are smarter than most cows, watch a good roping horse cut cattle. It's a match of wits and the horses usually think faster. Often the human on board is just a passenger.
          Humans bred horses to be attentive to us, to be willing partners in everything from work to games. You can teach them to do amazing things (look at the Lipizzaners). Beef cattle, not so much, they were bred to be docile and tractable.
          But cows can be trained. They learn the routine for milking and line up at the right time of day, go into their own stalls when the door opens, et cetera. Even sport cows (used for rodeos) learn the game and figure out strategies.
          I've even seen pictures of a kid who not only taught her cow to ride, but to jump!

          If I ran this circus, things would be DIFFERENT!

          by CwV on Fri Feb 01, 2013 at 02:41:54 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I read a war anthropologist's recollection of (5+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Ahianne, trumpeter, blackjackal, CwV, kurt

            his participation in a mock cavalry charge.  The US Army used Morgans.  They were drilled in bugle commands, just as the soldiers were, until they obeyed without thinking.

            Remember, horses are herding animals by nature.  Once they heard the bugle call "charge" they were off in an unstoppable mass of horseflesh.  All the troopers could do was hang on.  This anthropologist wrote it was one of the most exhilarating experiences of his life.

            Any jackass can kick down a barn, but it takes a good carpenter to build one.--Sam Rayburn

            by Ice Blue on Fri Feb 01, 2013 at 04:05:11 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  I worked with cattle (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          kurt

          on horseback for 8 years. I can safely tell you that horses are smarter than cows. Halter training is one thing, but you'll never train a cow to do a collected trot.
          ;)

          “We are not a nation that says ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ We are a nation that says ‘out of many, we are one.’” -Barack Obama

          by skohayes on Fri Feb 01, 2013 at 03:35:49 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  the real problem is that horses sold for slaughter (9+ / 0-)

      are not sold for human consumption due to the large amounts of equine medications that make horsemeat dangerous to eat (not withstanding the idea that eating one of our most intelligent and wonderful companion animals is just plain barbaric).

      would YOU want a "burger" or "steak" that is filled with pergolide (banned for people, okay for horses) or bute (phenylbutazone), or so many other horse medications.

      there are valid reasons to ban horsemeat, especially when most horse meds clearly state "not to be used for animals used for human consumption).

      EdriesShop Is it kind? is it true? is it necessary?

      by edrie on Fri Feb 01, 2013 at 01:00:49 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Horses are nicer (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      eataTREE, Ice Blue, Ahianne, RedPrairie, kurt

      If you've ever hung around horses you wouldn't want to eat them, just as you wouldn't want to eat a dog or a cat -- not because there's anything wrong with their meat, but because they're our friends.

      Ever hang around an old fashioned pig stye (like my old fashioned grandparents kept)? Half an hour around pigs -- even though they are as intelligent as dogs -- you might think, fuck yeah, eat those evil, mean motherfuckers.

      •  Now I felt that way about cows. Then there was (6+ / 0-)

        a bull I called Daisy. At 5 I laid on his back and petted him until I was caught and told he was a vicious animal and male. LOL. I got chased by  hogs once when I entered a  pasture not realizing they had been moved there. I heard thuds and looked around to see a herd of hogs, big freaking hogs coming at me. They will eat you if your body lays around I was told. I ran like the wind and I have never been able to duplicate that leap over the barb fence.

        But the very worst animals on a farm were turkeys... There is a good reason when someone calls someone a turkey...Meanest animals and dumbest F***ers alive... On farms at least. LOL

        Fear is the Mind Killer...

        by boophus on Fri Feb 01, 2013 at 02:14:40 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  The pig story brings back memories (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          OldDragon, HamdenRice, kurt

          A friend and I were walking through the woods looking for a lost dog, and managed to climb into a pig pen (although we didn't know that at the time, it was just a fence going through the woods), and about 5 of the scariest looking sows came out of the woods BARKING at us and running after us. Chased us right back out of that pen, LOL.

          “We are not a nation that says ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ We are a nation that says ‘out of many, we are one.’” -Barack Obama

          by skohayes on Fri Feb 01, 2013 at 03:42:41 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  That's why (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Shippo1776, HamdenRice

          there is such a panic at the beginning of "The Wizard of Oz" when Dorothy falls into the pig pen.  Those buggers can be mean.

          I am not religious, and did NOT say I enjoyed sects.

          by trumpeter on Fri Feb 01, 2013 at 04:46:53 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Clearly, you haven't met a nice pig. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Ice Blue, Ahianne, kurt

        A friend has a big old sow running around her place, free ranging, she keeps herself clean, hangs out with the bigger dogs (doesn't like the little yappy one), greets visitors and is generally a wonderful pet.

        If I ran this circus, things would be DIFFERENT!

        by CwV on Fri Feb 01, 2013 at 02:47:29 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I know pigs can be nice (0+ / 0-)

          In fact, I think they are generally so evil because of the conditions we keep them in -- in pig styes -- and the way we treat them. It's almost like we treat them badly to make them mean which justifies eating them.

          On the other hand, once I was in a game park in Swaziland, in southern Africa, and although most big animals were screened out of the base camp, wild bush pigs and wart hogs sometimes invaded. One night a bunch of those mean sonsufbiches chased me up a fence pole.

          I think even domestic pigs are more naturally mean than domestic dogs, cats or horses.

    •  My S.I.L. used to serve us horse burgers (0+ / 0-)

      when we visited. She called the "Whinny Burgers". Actually, they were pretty good, once you got past the concept of eating horse. The meat is leaner than beef IIRC.

      They also raised rabbits for meat. That was tasty as well.

      The family later became vegan, but prior to that nothing was off limits.

    •  There's nothing wrong with eating horse, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ahianne

      at least from a health point of view, or an ethical point of view. A cow and a horse are pretty similar animals. The difference is in how we perceive certain animals. Horses have a privileged position in the minds of most people, unlike cows. It's a cultural thing.

      For if there is a sin against life, it consists perhaps not so much in despairing of life as in hoping for another life and in eluding the implacable grandeur of this life. - Albert Camus

      by Anne Elk on Fri Feb 01, 2013 at 01:43:42 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  when humans started (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Anne Elk, kurt

        to break horses to ride/haul, they stopped eating them to the same degree because they were more valuable as transportation.   On the other hand,  there are certain strains of draft horses developped that were predominantly bred for meat in Europe in the old days.

      •  Horses that are not bred for meat are full of (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Ice Blue

        drugs that can harm people.

        “liberals are the people who think that cruelty is the worst thing that we do” --Richard Rorty Also, I moved from NYC, so my username is inaccurate.

        by jeff in nyc on Fri Feb 01, 2013 at 02:08:01 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  So are cows if they are not grass-fed. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Crider

          For if there is a sin against life, it consists perhaps not so much in despairing of life as in hoping for another life and in eluding the implacable grandeur of this life. - Albert Camus

          by Anne Elk on Fri Feb 01, 2013 at 02:12:32 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yes and no--the horses are given drugs (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            skohayes

            that are not allowed for cows destined for meat. This is especially true in the US, I think.

            “liberals are the people who think that cruelty is the worst thing that we do” --Richard Rorty Also, I moved from NYC, so my username is inaccurate.

            by jeff in nyc on Fri Feb 01, 2013 at 02:23:02 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Not true (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            jeff in nyc

            You have to stop the use of all drugs in any meat animals from days to weeks to months before slaughter, depending on the drug.
            Organic beef or organic grass fed beef is never treated with drugs.

            “We are not a nation that says ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ We are a nation that says ‘out of many, we are one.’” -Barack Obama

            by skohayes on Fri Feb 01, 2013 at 03:45:57 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  The Compact Between Horse and Man (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Marihilda, Ice Blue, Ahianne, kurt

      In some societies, some types of animals are viewed as having formed working partnerships with Man, and it is considered that their contributions to our society have earned them certain respect and privileges, such as receiving appropriate care, an honorable retirement, and not being used as food animals.

      Horses fought and died in our wars.  They were partners to man in building our nation, such jobs as serving in our military, serving as mail carriers, building our railroads, providing our transportation, and working our farms.    Anyone who is familiar with horses knows that they are not just dumb servants.   They will act at times on their own initiative to their partner's benefit.  A person who builds a strong emotional bond with their horse will gain a true partner, not just a dumb servant.  

      It may not seem to make much sense scientifically, but emotionally, many people view it as a betrayal of the partnership between Man and Horse to send the loyal, intelligent, hard-working horse to the slaughterhouse and the glue factory after they have outlived their usefulness.   Such persons would never knowingly eat horsemeat, and would be horrified to discover it had been fed to them without their knowledge.

      It does seem to be a bit of a classist approach to the treatment of higher mammals (pigs and cows obviously get the short end of the stick) but it is a strong view held by a large segment of our society.   If you look at the national effort to close the slaughterhouses for horses

    •  Horses, like people, are given lots of drugs (0+ / 0-)

      that are not safe when you eat the patient.

      “liberals are the people who think that cruelty is the worst thing that we do” --Richard Rorty Also, I moved from NYC, so my username is inaccurate.

      by jeff in nyc on Fri Feb 01, 2013 at 02:07:00 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Nothing wrong with it (0+ / 0-)

      as long as it is labeled "contains horse meat".

      anything else it is fraud.

    •  Culturally, they're generally grouped with (0+ / 0-)

      "companion" animals, and eating them is often considered morally wrong, just like dogs, cats, and small children.

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