Friday, February 22, 2013 at 6:42 AM

Why All the Outrage Over Horse Meat?

Posted by Anthony L. Hall

Like so many people, you probably recoiled with cultural indignation at reports this week about horse meat being sold all over Europe as beef.

Horse+and+cowOf course it is wrong to mislabel horse meat as beef. But I would caution Americans to read the following before giving full vent to their holier-than-thou attitude in this respect:

Oceana, an international ocean advocacy group, has released a report on national seafood fraud [in the United States], and the results are disconcerting. The report, which is one of the largest on seafood fraud to date, found that one-third of fish was mislabeled…

For example, 84 percent of the white tuna samples were actually escolar, a species that is known to cause digestive issues for certain individuals.

(Huffington Post, February 21, 2013)

Moreover, is it any more disgusting to eat horse meat mislabeled as cow meat than it is to eat dolphin meat mislabeled as shark meat?  (Why do you think pods of tens of thousands of dolphins have been spotted swimming frantically off the coast of California in recent weeks?  Escaping the fishing nets of Alaska fishermen, perhaps…?)

In any event, much of this indignation over horse meat reeks of hypocrisy and carnivore snobbery, both rooted in ignorance.

After all, eating horses was (and is becoming again) as commonplace in France, a nation of gastronomes nonpareil, as eating pigs is in the United States.  Which makes all of the outrage over eating horse meat akin to barbarians accusing aristocrats of uncivilized behavior. (Oh, did you know that eating dogs is as commonplace in China as eating pheasants is in England.)

Bon appetit…?

Meanwhile, this “rumpus” over horse meat might cause the United States to reconsider lifting its ban on imports of EU beef, which the United States imposed in 1997 over concerns about mad-cow disease (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, or BSE). Just last year the Department of Agriculture recommended lifting it….

For the record, suspicions prevailed in Europe about the ban being imposed in retaliation for the EU ban on imports of American beef,  which the EU imposed in 1988 over concerns about hormones used to treat American beef.

All of which makes a compelling case for vegetarianism, no…?


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