Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Horse Meat and Idiots

It seems that some horse meat sauntered into the European food supply, and this sparked outcry.  Now, just for fun, I'm going to provide two possible reactions to the discovery that horse meat may have ended up in your Whopper.  See if you can guess which one a majority of the media / internet went with.

Option 1:  "The discovery of horse meat raises issues and concerns over the effectiveness of government regulation, and sparked an outcry for more stringent requirements and additional regulatory staff to inspect food processing facilities."


If you selected 1, then you are obviously confused about the nature of our species.

There are legitimate concerns to raise over the relationship between food labels and content, for the sake of allergies, nutrition concerns, and issues of food sourcing.  Some reactions to this situation focused upon these sensible issues.  For example:

"The finding of even trace amounts of equine DNA in beef products, even if of no public health concern, is relevant and worthy of further consideration in cases when the manufacturing plant does not handle horse meat products."

It seems sensible to ask why equine DNA was found in food products that were labeled as beef, since that may indicate a problem with sourcing / packaging of food products.  However, other sources indicate this may not be a problem of mislabeling:  "One of the Romanian slaughterhouses implicated, Carmolimp, said in a statement its meat was properly labelled as horsemeat, adding that it had not exported beef in 2012."  There is a question as to whether the horsemeat was actually mislabeled.

A bit of evidence against regulatory failure is the finding that:

"We also had the burgers that tested positive for horse DNA, tested for the presence of a range of animal remedies including phenylbutazone by the State Laboratory on 10th December. Phenylbutazone is a commonly used medicine in horses. Once administered to a horse, the animal is not allowed in the food chain. The FSAI received these results on 19th December and all the results were negative for the presence of phenylbutazone and other drugs."

All of the horsemeat tested seems to have been produced for human consumption, or at least meets the requirements for human consumption.  The horse meat seems to have come from eating horses, as opposed to riding horses.  The problem is that people thought they were eating cow, but were actually eating horsey.

Clearing up those issues?  Good and sensible.  Unfortunately, the majority of outcry isn't based on those sensible considerations, but rather errs on the side of horseys being inherently for riding, not eating.  And that is fucking stupid, in the same sense that any non-nutritionally based food preference is fucking stupid.

There exist persons who choose to eat horse.  Horse meat is a protein with nutritional qualities that can be processed by the human organism.  Horse is edible.  And, again, there can be legitimate problems if one has a horse allergy, or requires a specific nutritant that cow provides and horse does not.  But the actual majority of bitching isn't focused upon those nutritional concerns.  Rather, it's "EWWWW HORSEY!" which is fucking stupid.

Why is it stupid?

Well, it's stupid because it's based on shitty reasoning such as this:  "Opponents of horse slaughter essentially say eating horses is not part of American culture, equating it to the slaughter of other pets."  It's the nonsensical distinction between "things for eating" and "things not for eating" that rests on cultural biases and nonsensical emotive dispositions and preferences.  It's the same disposition that leads us to keep dogs and cats as pets, rather than snacks.  We're inclined to eat some things, and disinclined to eat others, for reasons other than acquiring the nutrients necessary to sustain life.  It's an arbitrary distinction that comes from arbitrary cultural biases.

Another consideration is the degree to which people seem to have enjoyed eating horsemeat.  Granted, they did not know that their Whopper was horsemeat at the time that they ate it, but their knowledge of its not being cow does not change the enjoyment they experienced.  There are a group of people who, if asked, would probably claim to not enjoy horse meat despite their having unknowingly consumed horse meat and enjoyed it.

That's an interesting situation, and perhaps evidences the degree to which "Horse Meat EEEWWW!!!!" is a childish reaction.

So, if you want to bitch about horse meat, focus upon the legitimate concerns of food inspection and regulation.  Question the effectiveness of labels and the relationship between consumers and suppliers.  Everything else is just emotive braying and culturally biased neigh-saying.


Caleb said...



Everything else is just emotive braying and culturally biased neigh-saying.

Andrew said...

mmmm forbidden horse meat....