What’s all the Hype?
The horsemeat scandal highlights the extremely complex food processing business and its weaknesses. The issue lies less in the fact that horsemeat was being sold, as it is popular in countries such as France, but rather that the widespread mislabeling of the meat lowers consumer trust in the processed food world, and causes them to feel deceived. Without lab testing for food safety, traces of horse DNA may have never be found in meat products labeled as ground beef in Europe. Through all the fuss, it is unclear who is to blame. The complicated system that has developed of passing meat from slaughterhouse, to packaging companies, to companies creating the food products, to the market, has raised questions of the extent of corruption in the food processing system. Was the slaughterhouse the only step in this chain that was privy to the scandal? The scandal goes beyond the simple discomfort of consumer’s lack of knowledge. It is affecting Europe’s system of having a flow of goods and services across national borders. Many consumers are vowing to start preparing beef products from scratch rather than having consumer trust in the large food companies that produce processed food. Some may even go the extra length and grind their own meat. Regardless of the approach consumers take, the sheer scale of the scandal, and how food companies were able to get away with it until now, raises suspicions about the industry.
How is the Horsemeat Scandal Connected to the United States?
Though the horsemeat scandal did not reach the United States, such deceit has a place in US history. In 1906, Upton Sinclair’s book The Jungle exposed the social and physical griminess of the US meatpacking industry at the beginning to the century. The riotous response led to various acts and the establishment of the Food and Drug Administration that same year, which has since kept tabs and set regulations for products reaching the public. Before the Food and Drug Administration’s existence, US residents were no less likely to be given cause for having no consumer trust in food companies, as is happening in Europe.
There has recently been a push toward local, sustainable food and fresh cooking as opposed to eating processed food. The horsemeat scandal highlights the vast difference in food quality when made by individuals, such as chefs, as opposed to large food companies. Despite the fact that the United States market was not directly involved in the story, the horsemeat discovered in fast food chains in Europe may convince consumers, even in the US, to invest the extra time and money in quality restaurant when dining out.