Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Eat kosher!

There is a big scandal in Europe over the labelling and origin of meat that is being sold on supermarket shelves.  It was discovered in DNA tests, that can distinguish the species of the meat, that many products being labelled and sold as beef are in fact partially of completely horse-meat.  Not only has this led to a scandal about truth in labelling, but it now appers that frozen meat carcasses have been transported all over Europe and either deliberately or accidentally mixed up.  Thus horse-meat has turned up in all sorts of products all over Europe.
How did this happen?  It seems that horse-meat produced in Romania, was shipped to France, where it was mis-labelled and sent onto a factory in Luxembourg, where it was mixed with beef and turned into products like so-called beef lasagne.  It was then shipped to the UK, Sweden and other countries. All such products have now supposedly been removed from supermarket shelves.  Of course, someone was making a lot of money on this switch, since horse-meat is a lot cheaper than beef. 
Meanwhile other factories have been closed down, at least two in England and one in Ireland, for having undocumented and partially frozen horse-meat packages lying around.  This is both illegal and unsanitary.  So far, no actual threat to human health has been discovered (horse-meat itself is not dangerous).  Now all manufacturers of meat products are rushing to test them for DNA and several products have been removed from shelves, even where a small contamination (say 1%) of horse meat was discovered.  In order to restore customer trust in labelling, producers have to ensure full and constant testing. So there is now a new industry, meat testing of actual species. In a few cases even pig and other species have been detected. 
The inevitable conclusion is that its safer to eat kosher meat, even if it's more expensive.  At each stage of the processing there are watchers (mashgiah) to check the purity and source of the meat products.  Of course, DNA testing will be even better, when or if it becomes compulsory and publishable with the product.  But, that may never happen.  So in the meantime, if you fancy a good steak, eat kosher!


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