Roy Exum: Ugh! Neigh To Horse Meat

Sunday, February 17, 2013 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

What began as a routine DNA inspection in Ireland a month ago has triggered what European food officials now fear is a widespread scandal -- horse meat is showing up in alarming rates in countries where it is has always been most taboo to eat the regal animals. One sample burger, it has been confirmed, contained as much as one-third of mankind's most noble steed and it is believed 28 companies in 13 countries may be involved in a massive fraud.

Since the gruesome discovery in Ireland, there were three arrests in Great Britain on Thursday and health officials believe that may just be the tip of the iceberg; one French company reportedly made profits of almost $750,000 over the past six months by substituting horse for beef to retailers.

This weekend the European Union has called for extensive DNA testing as people are shocked by what appears to be a disgusting food fraud.

Ironically, this time last year a misguided Tennessee lawmaker, Andy Holt (R-Dresden), tried to get a bill passed through the legislature to allow slaughterhouses in the state but a groundswell of fiery public opinion drowned out the farmer's efforts to keep horses from being transported to Canada, where the meat is sold to mostly Asian markets.

There are still some in Tennessee who haven't given up on the idea, especially when the state is still under worldwide scrutiny for horse abuse. The "Big Lick" faction of the Tennessee Walking Horse industry, centered in Shelbyville, has caused federal legislation to be introduced that would severely punish those who sadistically torture and maim animals for the so-called "Big Lick," an unnatural gait that brings a blue ribbon.

Yet today the loudest outcry is resounding in Europe where -- believe it or not -- eating horse is unthinkable in England while it is now sold as a delicacy at some restaurants in nearby France. The fraud, obviously, is that horse meat is being secretly ground into sausages and beef at the total surprise of the beef buyers. Cyprus, the Netherlands, Romania and other countries are finding horse meat in the groceries and -- while it is hardly toxic -- the illicit meat is now being discarded and destroyed.

In 2007 slaughtering horses was abandoned in the United States but, in November of 2011, Congress quietly lifted the ban. Today there are only a few locations where horses are slaughtered in the U.S. for what is thought to be a $100-billion global business. "There are certain communities that have considered (reviving horse slaughter,") said ASPCA spokesperson Nancy Perry, "but the vast amount of Americans -- 80 percent - oppose the practice," she told NBC News.

According to scientific experts, horse meat is actually high in protein and less fatty than beef, the taste akin to deer meat. The trouble is choking it down. Horses have played a key part in the nation's history and the immense love for the animals was most recently seen when the Tennessee Walking Horse industry was vandalized after it was revealed a segment of owners and trainers have sored and tortured the animals for over 40 years.

After World War II some U.S. citizens ate horse meat as a necessity, causing Republican detractors to label President Truman as "Horsemeat Harry" before the revolting practice was stopped. Canadian buyers are regularly seen in the Southeastern U.S., buying horses at auctions and then trucking the animals to Canada to be processed. In today's tough economy, some owners can't afford to keep their horses.

But nobody -- especially a horse owner -- wants to knowingly send their animals to slaughterhouses. When a bill was before the Tennessee Legislature last spring, Leighann McCollum of the Humane Society of the United States was quoted, "Horse slaughter plants have a very long history of polluting the environment, of animal cuelty, of devaluing property and generally running roughshod over rural communities," she told the Nashville Tennessean.

"The bill (proposed by Rep. Holt last year) is not about the horse-slaughter debate -- it's about Tennesseans' constitutional right to have access to the courthouse. This bill closes courts to everyone except the wealthy." she said.

Holt maintained he filed the bill last year to "create jobs" but now he is seeing -- along with the rest of the world -- that the European countries are furious at the tainted food that has invaded their butcher shops. Ray Ellard, an authority for food safety in Ireland, explained, "We set out to do something fairly simple" and said he had no idea the tests were "goiing to end up where it is today."

"But we're glad in one way," he told an NBS correspondent. "Systems will all improve and the potential for defrauding people will be a lot less. We're glad that has happened, but we've had a nervous few days, I can tell you."

royexum@aol.com


Stokes Book Is A Visual Stroll Through Hamilton County's Past

It's not surprising that the demand for the Stokes Pictorial History book required a third printing.  This outstanding publication provides the chance for our generation to take a visual stroll through Hamilton County's past. The journey is an unique opportunity to gain new appreciation for those who pioneered the development of our beautiful community.  Bill Knowles (click for more)

David Carroll: Y’all Know Anybody Who Speaks Southern?

I haven’t had my hearing checked lately, but maybe I should.  After all, I was a disc jockey for about 10 ears, and I kept those headphones cranked up high.  Each year, when we have our reunion of old disc jockeys, the voices keep getting louder, but I think most of us are reading lips by now.  It’s like that old joke about a couple of guys, both hard of hearing.   ... (click for more)

Robber Who Was Shot At Rossville Boulevard Car Lot Dies; No Charges To Be Filed

Police said a person who was shot during a robbery attempt at a car lot at 4314 Rossville Blvd. around 1:50 p.m. on Thursday has died. Police said the shooting has been ruled a "justifiable homicide" and no charges will be brought against 27-year-old Alan Miller. The shooting in which the robbery victim shot the suspect was at Miller Auto Sales. (click for more)

Man Charged In Shooting On Sixth Avenue Had Been Shot Himself Last Week; Police Say Incident "Part Of Gang War"

A man charged with attempted first-degree murder on Sixth Avenue Court on Thursday afternoon was shot himself earlier this month. O'Shae Kadaris Smith, 20, of 2114 E. 12th St., is also charged with reckless endangerment, aggravated assault and possessing a firearm during the commission of a crime. He was one of two people shot on Rawlings Street on March 16. Kendre Allen, ... (click for more)

Mossburg Fans 11, Stymies Innisdale In Pounder Classic

Innisdale Secondary School, out of Barrie, Ontario, Canada, looked like a baseball team that had been cooped up in its basketball gymnasium for weeks while harsh winter weather slammed the province. The Invaders, getting outside for the first time, were held hitless and scoreless over five innings by Silverdale pitcher Tyler Mossburg and the Seahawks went on to beat Innisdale, ... (click for more)

Tennessee Fires Basketball Coach Donnie Tyndall

KNOXVILLE, Tenn.  – Tennessee has fired men’s basketball coach Donnie Tyndall. The decision was made based on information the university received during the NCAA's investigation of another institution. The university concluded that Tyndall will likely be held responsible for serious violations of NCAA rules that occurred during his tenure as head men's basketball ... (click for more)