Horsemeat: A new political metaphor

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It’s not just about horsemeat, is it? asks Simon Sweetman. The parallels drawn so far with Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle (about the meat packing industry in Chicago) take us right back to a world of adulterated food where what’s not fit for human consumption one day goes round to the back door and reappears.

We thought we’d lost that, but no: The urge for more profit whether for the abattoir, the wholesaler or supermarket will override any demand for quality (unless you’re going to pay a lot more): and each link in the chain will blame the others for their unreasonable demands.

But what does this have to do with tax, you ask. Well first of all it gives us a new metaphor for political behaviour, a more polite term than bullshit - we can ask if that speech was 40% horsemeat or George Osborne’s Budget 95% horsemeat.

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Simon Sweetman
Tax Consultant
freelance
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By kkay783
22nd Feb 2013 11:28

Mans greed and inhumanity

What has happened to our humanity when we focus on the profit implications rather than on the misery inflicted to once much loved pets who find their way through no fault of their own into abattoirs.

 

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By peterk
22nd Feb 2013 12:12

Lets not lose sight of the issue

kkay783 wrote:

What has happened to our humanity when we focus on the profit implications rather than on the misery inflicted to once much loved pets who find their way through no fault of their own into abattoirs.

 

The issue is that horse meat - which is perfectly edible and indeed, widely eaten - is passed off as beef, not the eating of horse meat per se.

Just because we like to give horses names doesn't make killing them for food a crime against humanity!

And if you insist on buying a 'beef' lasagne for less than the price of a pint of milk, don't expect there to be finely minced fillet steak contained therein!

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By kkay783
22nd Feb 2013 14:08

Chanel 4 Dispatches

Ah, so you didn't see Chanel 4's Dispatches this week?

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By peterk
22nd Feb 2013 14:19

Channel 4 Dispatches

No, but I might try to catch it on i player now - revealing?

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By kkay783
22nd Feb 2013 15:39

Channel 4 Dispatches

Yes, revealing and shocking unfortunately

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22nd Feb 2013 11:28

No puns please, we're British

This reminds me of an old Soviet era Russian joke where the minister in charge of milk production continually urges unrealistic hikes in output, only to be told eventually: 'Yes we can do that, but it's going to be very watery'.

Interestingly, the big corporate fast food retailers (McD, BK etc) have no problem with horsemeat.  The reason being that they used to be troubled by vexatious litigants claiming to found, for example, a fingertip in a burger.  On the advice of their lawyers, they set up rigorous audit trails of their supplies all the way back to the farms.  Nowadays if you try to sue them for a foreign body (as it were) in your meal, they will show you exactly how your food travelled from pasture to plate, and point out that on no occasion and in no location proximate to your product did anyone report the loss of a fingertip.  Ipso facto the offending digit was introduced after you bought your food,  and the courts are likely to give your claim the proverbial thumbs down [insert your own joke here].

I think most if not all food retailers and hospitality providers are going to have to follow this example, or face the consequences.

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22nd Feb 2013 17:16

Usually with situations like this

there is a blindingly obvious thing that everyone wonders about but no one mentions, a so called elephant in the room.

so far i haven't been able to find it, should i be worried...?

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By BKD
24th Feb 2013 16:58

Next scandal?

a so called elephant in the room.

so far i haven't been able to find it, should i be worried...?

You certainly should be, if that too has found its way into the food chain ;)

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By waltere
25th Feb 2013 09:27

...and let's not lose sight of the wider issue

@peterk

"...if you insist on buying a 'beef' lasagne for less than the price of a pint of milk, don't expect there to be finely minced fillet steak contained therein!"

I don't, but I do expect beef.

If you leave everything to the market, it seems that you do sometimes end up with horsemeat.  Maybe it's worth remembering this the next time a politician tells you to "trust the market" over care for the elderly, NHS standards, the building of roads and power stations, the education of our children... etc etc.

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