Rod Liddle

The poor have been sold horse dressed as beef – and they should be compensated

16 February 2013

9:00 AM

16 February 2013

9:00 AM

Well at least — so far — no middle-class food has been found to contain large chunks of horsey. It’s all been in the junk they feed the chavs. It’s true that Waitrose withdrew some beefburgers for sale a week or two back, but this was only a ‘precautionary measure’ and later the burgers were found to contain ‘100 per cent beef’, from privately educated cows, according to the supermarket. Thank the lord, etc. Instead, it’s all in the Findus beef lasagne and some unspeakable frozen product from Tesco which masquerades as spaghetti bolognese. Or spaghetti bologneigghhhhhhhhhs, as I daresay the red tops will call it henceforth.

It seems highly likely that more supermarket chavproducts will be revealed to be equine-based over the next few days, bought by obese women in shellsuits who you will hear at the checkout screaming to one of her awful children: ‘Just shut it Jayden, you little slag,’ as she heaves the multipack of crisps and the pizzas and the dead-horse pasta onto the counter. Did you know, by the way, that the beef flavouring for crisps is made from Chinese people’s hair? It is, I think. I read it somewhere, ages ago. Anyway, Tesco ‘Everyday Value’ spag bol costs just 80p and is, according to the website, made only from ‘ingredients you’d find in your kitchen cupboard’. Bloody big cupboards these chavs must have, then.

As this scandal howls around and the government gets itself involved, the usual suspects are being lined up and named. First, it’s all the fault of foreigners, of course, as most things usually are. A processing factory in south-west France was fingered and then the Irish, with their superfluity of horses, were invoked. Better still, eventually the newspapers were able to identify the true culprit — Romania. This is the country du jour for every bad thing visited upon the UK, not least Romanians themselves, who are due to arrive at our immigration desks, munching horse-filled baps, next January.


So government ministers and the UK food industry immediately distanced themselves one stage from blame: it’s not Britain, with its rigorous food hygiene standards, democracy and proper drains — it’s the wogs, of course, beginning at Calais. And then they distanced themselves a second time by suggesting that not only was it foreigners, but ‘criminal’ foreigners. Gangs, mafioso and the like, some massive organised crime being perpetrated against the British people.

Swathed in this newfound righteousness, the food companies forgot the apologies they had made and began to announce that they would be seeking redress. Findus, for example, said it would be seeking to sue the French suppliers. And so suddenly the victim was not Mrs Morbidly Obese Chav and her offspring Jayden from Chatham, but the companies themselves. This is pushing it, frankly. Findus and Aldi and Tesco bought their meat from these companies because it was dirt cheap, the cheapest they could find — and while they may not have been aware that it was stuffed full of fetlock, they did not give a tinker’s cuss until they’d been rumbled. They packaged up whatever crap came their way and flogged it to the poor.

If anyone is allowed to look for legal redress, it should be, first and foremost, the consumer. When a fingernail, or a whole finger, is found in food sold by supermarkets, the customer is usually richly compensated — even when it takes a court to adjudicate on the matter. The business with the horsemeat is in principle no different at all; the supermarkets, and Findus, should be held primarily responsible for passing horsemeat off as beef, and the customers should be entitled to a bit of good hard cash. Take your till receipts back to the store and demand satisfaction. Picket their superstores. Abduct one of the halfwits who repositions the trolleys and don’t let him go until you have been given redress.

We could do without the assurances from the in-house experts that actually, you know, horsemeat is no worse for you than beef. It may be true that the bits of horse in a Findus lasagne are actually healthier than anything else in it, but that is not the point, is it? Their labels lied. The supermarket labels lied. And it was a lie rather than an unlucky misapprehension, because they took no steps at all to ensure that what they were telling us all was true. Instead of getting himself worked up about shadowy unnamed foreign criminals, the environment secretary Owen Paterson should be pointing the finger at the supermarkets and the food companies here. Otherwise we might begin to think that the government has not entirely got our interests at heart and is concerned only with saving the reputations, and thus future income, of the likes of Tesco.

In the same week as the horses-for-all-courses saga unfolded, the government was petitioning the European Union for an opt-out to allow British supermarkets to continue to sell utter crap to the public. This is the ‘desinewed beef’ scandal, about which you may not have read terribly much. In short, our government wishes to allow the supermarkets to continue labelling an amalgam of collagen and ligament and connective tissue ‘minced beef’, when the rest of the European Union thinks it disgusting to do so and insists we label it with a greater nod to honesty. You can tell, from this, exactly whose interests the government has at heart.

Subscribe to The Spectator today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator for less – just £12 for 12 issues.

Show comments
  • contravariant

    Wouldn’t be too sure about chavs only. Have they tested all those lovely sausages, pates and salami? ‘Though a proper, traditional Italian salami should contain some donkey, so let’s hope they don’t look too closely.

  • Eddie

    One should never look too closely how two things in this world are made: sausages and the law.
    One never knows what one will find…
    Having chewed on many a Czech horse-meat sausage when I lived there, I certainly didn’t have a problem eating it.
    And I think there is often horse in the deli sausages and salami that the Islingtonistas so crave…

  • foxoles

    Le Figaro is fingering Spanghero, the meat processing plant in Castelnaudary, southern France, for causing the crisis.

  • In2minds

    There was a time when the blog roll of the Speccie had a link to Richard
    North at EUReferendum. That’s gone now but it’s well worth a visit –

    as North is on his own here as the UK’s expert on this subject of horse

    He also calls the associate editor of the Speccie – “Liddle
    Englander”. Naturally I’m not taking sides here just offering it
    in the interests of balance.

    • JabbaTheCat

      Richard North is well ahead of the curve on this, showing up the MSM for the clueless morons they are…

  • Chris Woods

    Isn’t the horse meat scandal like the PPI with the banks? In that the customer has been mislead, ect?

  • Q46

    In order to sue someone you have to be able to prove negligence, and being swindled is not negligence.

    But, let me see if I have this right. In a price sensitive market where some customers will pay more for a certain thing and others will pay less, the store differentiates its products by selling one at a lower price and another at a higher price.

    Hoping to maintain its margins, the low price product costs less to produce than the higher priced one.

    It is thus the fault of the store that the low priced product contains ingredients that cost less…

    … because it is wrong the store should like to maximise its increase to its investors, without whom there would be no store and no products low price or high price.

    Got it.

    People should invest in companies, kiss goodbye to their money, and really should be doing it as a social service out of the loving, caring, sharing, giving thing for the good of the Collective.

    Right on brother. Keep that Red Flag flying high, so we can all see it and see you coming.

  • dalai guevara

    The FSA are both utterly useless organisations – not only do we need foreigners to tell us what is wrong with us, we also need foreign jurisdictions to fine us for our shortcomings.
    So who is failing here?

  • The mighty Jinlun JL 125 11