The news that horse meat has been found in beef burgers sold in the UK and Ireland is hitting the headlines – more so, even, than the fact that some of these burgers contained pork. There’s reams to be written on the reasons for the taboo on horse meat (and I think most of that material is in my filing cabinets), but let’s chuck in some numbers about the impact of the recession.
- In 2006 Ireland slaughtered 822 horses for meat. In 2010-2011, over 7,000 died.
- In 2008 there was one Irish abattoir that dealt with horses. In 2011 that number had increased to five.
- According to the Irish Independent, in late 2011 some farming groups were lobbying for a lifting of EU restrictions on horse slaughter. This article implied that this would specifically relate to the rules concerning horses that have been treated with drugs that make them unsuitable for human consumption.
The vast majority of this meat is exported from Ireland where there’s little stomach for it. The supermarkets involved in the current scandal say that the rogue batch of meat arrived at the rogue processor in an imported additive from Continental Europe. Given the bizarre nature of the modern industrial food chain, could it be that this is a case of Irish horses “coming home”, or is it a case of taking coals to Newcastle, while Newcastle is busy exporting all its coal…