Horsing Around

Opinion | PJS | March 2013

The fact that there are increasing numbers of reports on horsemeat in beef lasagne doesn’t bother me too much. But many felt disgusted that they may have unknowingly consumed horsemeat due to false labelling. A week ago, the local media was still reassuring consumers that the case poses no "danger" for Austrian consumers. But while the Viennese never saw horsemeat as dangerous, the scandal has now reached the popular pseudo-Viennese dish, the Döner kebab.

But before we delve any deeper, this may require some perspective. During both World Wars, horsemeat developed a bad reputation in the press, mainly because horse cadavers were often dissected and eaten by the starving masses.

We’re no longer starving, but we still don’t care what we eat. No one can tell me a machine-shredded cow, with cartilage and connective tissue that is run through a centrifuge and treated with ammonia to prevent E. coli bacteria is really appetising.

So, this extra horsemeat? A definite upgrade.

Unlike many other types of meat, horsemeat becomes tenderer as the animal ages and in many East Asian countries it is regarded as a delicacy and eaten regularly. The Austrians, contrarian as always, have latched on to the scandal by pushing the Pferdefleisch ticket. While our neighbours fear the evil that lurks in the fibres of horsemeat, in Austria, the stallion is making a comeback.

Who knows? Soon Austrian McDonalds might introduce a McBronco, and in the words of Steven Colbert, perhaps "fast food should be made of fast animals."


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