Some French Refuse to Abandon Love for Horsemeat Even as Britons Choke on Scandal

Despite the many historic alliances and cultural ties between Britain and France, the two countries now seem to be quite divided on one subject: eating horsemeat.

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Bernadett Szabo / REUTERS

Despite the many historic alliances and cultural ties between Britain and France, the two countries now seem to be quite divided on one subject: eating horsemeat.

Britons have been unable to contain their outrage upon learning that certain frozen foods sold at local supermarkets were found to contain horsemeat. But across the Channel, French eaters remain loyal to certain delicacies like breaded horse brain, pan-fried horse heart, and horse steak, Reuters reports.

Horsemeat aficionados line up at horse butchers in Parisian backstreets to get their favorite meat, prepared with oil, lemon juice and pepper, according to Reuters. The fallout of the scandal has done little to rock their perception of a meat they call “a tastier and healthier alternative to beef.” The only thing they lament is the lack of availability — horse butchers are simply rare to come by these days.

(MORE: Horse – It’s What’s for Dinner)

Gerard Marin, a 67-year-old horsemeat fan who visits Paris’s horse butchers once a week, told Reuters that he understood why the Britons were upset when their beef turned out to be “old Romanian ponies” but he said people “don’t know what they are missing.”

Horsemeat lovers tout its health benefits: the protein is low in calories but rich in iron and cholesterol-lowering omega-3 fatty acids. Their passion for the meat can be traced back to the Second French Empire, when horsemeat, originally a frugal living choice, made its way into high-end French restaurants. But it was actually illegal to consume until 1866, when the French government overturned the ban, citing the prohibitively high cost of pork and beef. According to The Telegraph, new horsemeat shops have been opening “everyday” in Paris since 2007 as people embraced horsemeat dishes and a group of young horsemeat eaters even formed a dining club called “Le Pony Club.”

France is not the only country that has a taste for the meat. Horsemeat is enjoyed across the world in Japan, Belgium, Italy, Sweden, the Netherlands, Germany, Austria and China. Japanese people call the meat sakura, which means “cherry blossom,” because of its dark red color. In southern parts of China, a famous local dish is “Ma Rou Mi Fen,” horsemeat rice noodles. In Belgium, the meat, prized for its rich flavor, is a “dietary staple,” notes the New York Times.

(MORE: The Case for Eating Horse Meat)

According to National Geographic, horsemeat has a “lingering sweetness, which is not disagreeable.” But in certain parts of the world, like the United States and United Kingdom, eating the meat of the gentle giants just seems wrong. So then, why is one country’s favorite food another country’s taboo?

Boris Johnson, current mayor of London, seems to have an answer. In an op-ed published in the Telegraph, Johnson asserts that everything comes down to the power of the taboos. “Individually and collectively, people developed little electric fences in the mind, and by agreeing on what was taboo they defined themselves; they defined themselves in opposition to others; and they helped to create a crucial sense of identity.”

(More: Pony Burgers? Europe Gags on a Horsemeat Scandal)

43 comments
csmithshaw
csmithshaw

The problem is Beef was sold at a certain price and with a certain description

by outlets that guaranteed they supposedly knew what they were selling 

now if they want to sell Horsemeat /they need to put that on the packet and reduce the price 

if people want to buy them /then fine /under the EU eating horse is not banned 

In some countries people eat dog or cat /we choose not to do that here 

In Europe though we have a lot of regulatory bodies with lots of people earning high salaries running them

but when it comes down to it what are they doing /not stopping miselling thats for shore



KarinHauenstein
KarinHauenstein

What really needs to be considered in this issue is the serious risk to human health that is contained in commercially slaughtered horse meat. The levels of adrenaline and cortisol produced by equines are far, far greater than any legal levels found in any other meat harvested for human consumption. Horses are specifically bred for adrenaline production, not for human consumption.

The fatally flawed head-shot kill method (severe head trauma) used in all commercial horse slaughter ensures that all of the adrenaline and cortisol that can possibly be produced by the animal is delivered throughout the flesh post shot. This is evidenced to any layman by the pulsing of the animal. In commercial beef production they call this “dark cutting” and the meat is not (supposed to be) legally approved for human consumption. Adrenaline and cortisol consumption by humans causes Colorectal and other forms of cancer.

It is not just the existence of prohibited medications and other man-made substances in the meat that is illegal---it is the abundance of naturally occurring hormones and steroids that make horse meat more carcinogenic than any other commercially slaughtered meat.

zuludawnrr
zuludawnrr

The problem here wasn't horsemeat per se, but the fact that it was passed off as beef - adulterating the food.  We would feel the same way if turkey burgers contained duck.

My in-laws were French and I lived for many years in Britain traveling frequently between the two countries.  They have different tastes and eating habits, as do Americans.  I had horse meat (roast, steak) several times and had no issue with it.  It has a richer flavor than beef.  The horses are raised for meat, just like we raise cattle (and bison too!).  I sampled (and didn't like) far worse things than horse meat.

I'm 100% with the Brits that passing off one meat as another is wrong.  If it had been labeled "beef and horse", well...buyer beware.

eetom
eetom

Should I be simple-minded enough to believe that anyone who eats horsemeat (or beef, pork, fish and what not) does so because it is healthy?  When one is denied grapes he can claim that grapes are sour.  Similarly when one enjoyed grapes he can announce that grapes are sweet.  Human being is not the only animal that can reason.  Human being is the only animal that can rationalize.

Ocsicnarf
Ocsicnarf

Horsemeat is fine. I remember a horsemeat shop, clearly announced as it in my hometown. The problem is the fraud of selling horsemeat as anything else. Time is doing a bad job confusing an already confused market.

emailmydoc
emailmydoc

I take exception to the first statement in the article. Even I, a product of the New York public school system, know the English and French have been at eachother's throats at least since the middle ages. They are rarely allied, have different religions, have completely different tastes in food (though they agree claret is great even if the french call it bordeaux) and neither could give tuppence or francs for the other's whims or wishes. Im not a vegetarian, but I see the point of not wanting to eat anything living that is not a plant. I feel doubly bad about most animals sent to the slaughter but they live such miserable lives anyway (cows and chickens in the USA) we're probably doing them a favor. 

GarySimon
GarySimon

I was duped into tasting horse meat, sold as beef, by a butcher in Spain. Not intolerable, but definately not a taste I'd acquire without starvation looming. Strange though that all this fuss is being made over serving horse to humans as a degradation of this magnificent beast, when it is something we commonly feed to our dogs by way of commercial feed.

SmallSpeakHouse
SmallSpeakHouse

I was sent to Japan for training several years ago, along with a few co-workers. Some time before we left, our Japanese friends treated us to horse sashimi. However, since most of my co-workers couldn't get past the thought of eating horse meat as taboo, only a few of us tried it. A co-worker and I ended up finishing off the whole plate (lol, their loss!).

KarinHauenstein
KarinHauenstein

@zuludawnrr You are not correct about these horses behind this meat being raised for slaughter. In Europe, just like in the U.S. the majority of horses come from performance capacities and end up slaughtered as reward for their hard work in life.  :0(

KarinHauenstein
KarinHauenstein

@Ocsicnarf Do you know how the horses were killed at this local, hometown butcher shop??? Were they head-shot or killed with a knife to the throat as in Kosher or Halal slaughter, by hand? This is the issue with the healthfulness of horse meat. If horses are shot in the head all of their adrenaline, a lot of adrenaline, is released into the flesh. If head-shot horse meat was eaten more regularly by the French population we would most certainly see them dying of Colorectal and other gut Cancers. What is the rate for those Cancers in France anyway?

derekcottrell
derekcottrell

@emailmydoc Hmmmm, Britain and France have been allied for over a century, perhaps not always natural allies,  and London is the 6th largest "French" city in the world, including France while the British have bought up and rejuvenated large swathes of the French countryside, as for different tastes in foods, there's a lot of appreciation of each others foods, when Marks and Spencer's pulled out of France (they have since returned) it was considered a calamity by many who took to the streets to remonstrate.

lannyb1@aol.com
lannyb1@aol.com

@GarySimon Actually, few of us if any who know the majesty of horses would ever feed horse meat to our dogs and cats.  But, I agree, it is a dilemma us vegetarians who love our dogs and cats must face.  Dogs and cats eat meat.  Cruelty to cattle and chickens is no less tolerable than to any sentient being.

fizzingwhizbee31
fizzingwhizbee31

@GarySimon I think the fuss over horse meat being fed to humans began because it was done without their knowledge in a country where eating horse flesh is unacceptable. A couple of us here also commented on the inhumane slaughter of animals used for food. This would also include animals winding up in dog food cans, in my opinion. I just believe that an animal--yes, a magnificent beast--should not be treated in this fashion--no matter who it is that's eating them--humans OR dogs. You most likely wouldn't feed Fido to Spot or to your family once Spot was no longer "useful". For all their contributions to mankind, horses deserve our respect--even more so than Fido or Spot.

KarinHauenstein
KarinHauenstein

@SmallSpeakHouse This happened in the U.S.---where? But you ate a plateful of adrenaline and cortisol. Do that regularly and you will get Cancer. :0(

fizzingwhizbee31
fizzingwhizbee31

@SmallSpeakHouse Speaking as a horse owner for the last 40 years, I find the eating of horses to be disgusting. What's next? Puppies? Kittens? Parrots? This is a disgraceful way to treat the one animal that has helped mankind to move forward more than any other. Where would we be without the horse? They were our transportation, they plowed the fields, they carried the mail, they pulled the fire wagon & the ice wagon. They delivered the groceries. They hauled timber from the forest and in some places they still do. They were our partners in combat. They gave their lives in battle like any soldier, like any canine. They serve on our police forces. They are used to search for missing loved ones in places cars & trucks cannot go. In more recent times they have become a wonderful hobby for many. They provide entertainment at the racetrack & rodeo, They march in parades. They provide therapy to the handicapped & mentally disturbed. Miniature horses have been trained as service animals for the disabled just as dogs have, but with longer lives enabling them to serve their humans for a longer span of time. Is this how they are to be repaid? By being served up on a dinner plate once their luck has run out? Would you do this to a K-9 officer or service dog? The 1986 Kentucky Derby winner, Ferdinand was sent to Japan to stud & when he became too old to be as productive as they would have liked--they sent him to slaughter & ate him. What a disturbing & heartbreaking end of life for a champion...

zuludawnrr
zuludawnrr

@KarinHauenstein @zuludawnrr From what I've read, things have changed in the last 25 years.  At that time, livestock was raised in country for that consumption, not imported from "wherever".  We've made things worse in the U.S. by shipping live horses to other countries for slaughter.  We used to slaughter them in this country under our own gov't regulations.  The food chain breaks down.  The problem isn't a roast or a steak, but the processing of meat in factory abattoirs then being processed into "meat" lasagna, sausage or other questionable products.

Ocsicnarf
Ocsicnarf

@KarinHauenstein I don't know how they were slaughtered. But I don't think they were shot. Some people said that it was healthy (more iron perhaps) but harder that beef. Anyway I haven't ever eaten horsemeat (to the best of my knowledge). And I didn't lnow the hazards you raise (I thought the problem was only related to selling certain meat as something else). Lastly I don't know about France. I'm not French.

emailmydoc
emailmydoc

@derekcottrell @emailmydoc Well, Id say that's true, maybe since the Crimean War, but if you added up all anglo-french actions as allies vs enemies, let's say since the Norman conquest, Id say the count would be about equal. I think Europeans and Britons have matured to the point where they'd rather settle their problems some way other than war. Lets  hope it stays that way and that the rest of the world gets on board with that way of thinking. I ceertainly can see Britain appreciating french cuisine, but other way around? That really doesnt sound possible. And who wouldnt want a Marks and Spencer in their neighborhood? When is it coming to New York? Im tired of Walmarts.

eetom
eetom

@fizzingwhizbee31 @GarySimon What are you going to feed your dog with if you do not think that Fido should be fed with meat of any kind?  Tofu (Chinese bean curd)?

SmallSpeakHouse
SmallSpeakHouse

@fizzingwhizbee31 @SmallSpeakHouse I did not intend to offend anyone by that comment and my apologies for having accidentally done so. However, to be honest, I am surprised by your intense reaction. But I believe it's due to cultural differences. 

I'm not from the west. In my country, there are no native horses. Though they were brought to my country by foreigners, they were not the main "beast of burden" in farmlands. Back then, the people who owned horses were either rich, or members of the colonial government. The common people who had access to these horses were workers for the rich. 

Since the foreigners who brought horses here never considered horse meat edible, the people here adopted that same way of thinking, which has been passed on to my generation. As such, the only reason that eating horse meat was taboo in my country was because it was never considered edible. It was not because of a true love or regard for horses.

What I'm trying to say here is that it didn't take much for me to take the first bite as I'm not emotionally or culturally attached to horses. Hence, I did not react as negatively as you did, and didn't realize that there are people that would react this way. Given that, in the future, I will take more care with my posts.

eetom
eetom

Were you born in the year of the horse?

lannyb1@aol.com
lannyb1@aol.com

@fizzingwhizbee31 @SmallSpeakHouse Ferdinand was one of the most beautiful thoroughbreds ever.  What  kind of mentality does this to a horse they have watched, routed for and won money on?  Mankind is so immature as a species, it is discouraging.

dreed3333
dreed3333

@fizzingwhizbee31 @SmallSpeakHouseIn Hindu culture many are appalled that people even eat meat at all, especially beef.  The difference between eating a horse and a cow is entirely cultural and like the article quotes, “Individually and collectively, people developed little electric fences in the mind, and by agreeing on what was taboo they defined themselves; they defined themselves in opposition to others; and they helped to create a crucial sense of identity.” Once you see past your own cultural constructs you can see that it makes no difference. One groups work animal is another groups delicacy, or even something considered holy.

AceNavigator
AceNavigator

@fizzingwhizbee31 @SmallSpeakHouse Viewed from that angle, eating beef is also isn't right. Bullocks pull carts; cows milk is fed to babies in lieu of mother's milk, and therefore cows are treated as mother godess by Hindus. As long as we don't turn cannibals its okay to eat any meat provided we remain humane in slaughtering animals.

lannyb1@aol.com
lannyb1@aol.com

@zuludawnrr @KarinHauenstein 

Thanks, Karin!  I know you to be an expert, but I don't think Zulu gets it.

Zulu, it would be just as bad if they actually did raise horses for slaughter.

It is the slaughter of horses.  It is the slaughter of pets.  It is the slaughter of the single most beautiful animal in the physical world, the horse, for food.

It is the eating of meat period-particularly in this age when nearly all the meat is contaminated by the means/methods/cruelty of raising the creatures and the horrors of the way they are slaughtered.

Dying is difficult and dying in mass is done in unspeakably vicious and horrendous ways.  Furthermore, study after study recommends that we should not eat meat for our ongoing health.  

And, finally, all ancient writings including the bible indicate that the creatures of the earth were put into our care.  Kindness, compassion and care are abandoned when it comes to meat production and slaughter.  

Ocsicnarf
Ocsicnarf

The shop was located in Tarragona (Spain).

KarinHauenstein
KarinHauenstein

@Ocsicnarf The only way horse meat can be harvested for healthful human consumption is if they are slaughtered by hand with a knife, correctly. This cannot be accomplished in a commercial setting. Kosher practice prohibits the slaughter of horses because they are not a cloven-hoofed animal. Very few people understand anything of what I am speaking. Google my name for more information, specifically my website. This is the tip of the iceberg of a very important, complicated human health issue. Right now in the U.S., Colorectal Cancer is the second leading killer of people with Cancer. It has reached epidemic proportions and it relates to issues seen in both commercial beef and horse slaughter. Google "dark cutting beef" also for more info. 

Where was this local butchershop? I'm curious because I am an expert on this issue in the U.S. Are you British? Cheers!

fizzingwhizbee31
fizzingwhizbee31

@eetom @fizzingwhizbee31 @GarySimon I don't have a dog and I don't remember saying that dogs shouldn't be fed meat of any kind. I think I implied that one pet should not be fed to another. I don't think you would be likely to feed your dog meat from another dog or from a cat or vice versa. My point began with the way horses are being treated by ungrateful and/or ignorant humans. You appear to feel that humans got where they are with no help from the horse & therefore, owe them nothing. Fine. I was trying to bring to light, the fact that horses are being treated in a way you would not consider treating your dog or cat--at least, I hope you wouldn't. You don't seem to be able to make the leap from dog to horse in the role they play in our lives. Later on in the discussion, I and a couple of others were discussing the inhumane treatment of ALL animals that are raised for food & led to slaughter. I don't know why anyone would protest the humane treatment of animals that are raised to give their lives to ultimately feed us. Horses are NOT raised for this purpose.They serve us in other ways & are thrown away later on in a way that we would find repugnant if it were done to a faithful dog. I don't understand why this is such a difficult concept to grasp.

fizzingwhizbee31
fizzingwhizbee31

@lannyb1@aol.com @fizzingwhizbee31 @SmallSpeakHouse Again--thank you! We as human beings hold the lives of others in our hands, but for so many, greed & gluttony win out & cruelty ensues. I have always been a horse lover & to see the change in an animal that receives love--possibly for the first time, is an experience I will never forget. I have encountered MANY horses in my life & not one of them was immune to the effects of love & respect. My life has been greatly enriched by the privilege of being in the presence of these beautiful animals. What happened to Ferdinand was a disgrace. If I remember correctly, the former owners tried to get him back, but it was too late. Ferdinand & others like him were used by humans all their lives for money & entertainment. If this is how we treat those under our care, I don't have much hope for us as a species. If we, in the end, are judged by how we treat the least among us--we are in big trouble...

lannyb1@aol.com
lannyb1@aol.com

@fizzingwhizbee31 @lannyb1@aol.com @dreed3333 @SmallSpeakHouse 

Not so.  You were eloquent and brought up all the best points.  I am very grateful.

And, yes, those of us who have teared up as we watched the beauty and grandeur of a horse running through the meadows are emotional about horses.  We have had the opportunity to appreciate their splendor.

Let's hope that before long all of us humans will understand the wonders of life with our pets, and that all beings are sentient and under the guardianship of humans who are expected to treat all animals, and humans, with kindness and love.

Which is worse?  Killing animals and eating them or torturing them for cosmetic or medical experiments?  May we reap what we sow!

lannyb1@aol.com
lannyb1@aol.com

@dreed3333 @fizzingwhizbee31 @SmallSpeakHouse 

Unfortunately, there are those who eat dogs and cats!  Companion animals should be taboo everywhere in the world, but so should eating meat, period.

A little research will reveal that the human race and the planet would be a lot better off if none of us ate any meat ever.

But for the sake of empathy, how can we eat our heritage and our companions.  

There are Youtube pictures of dogs who scream as their windpipes are gleefully crushed with metal constrictors.   If you can bear it, look at the Tyson Pig Farm pictures of how piglets and their parents are treated.  It is horrific.

The executioners become cruel and sadistic.   They come to hate the animals they execute and are vicious as they approach this karmic task.

Horses are flight animals and many injure or kill themselves in the chutes on their way to slaughter.  They say that horses begin to shriek in the trucks long before they reach the slaughter house because they are perceptive enough to know where they are being taken.  So how much adrenalin do they release?  Even the USDA  monitors beef as to the adrenalin content, because adrenalin is bad for humans when consumed in meat.  Horses who emit high amounts of adrenalin are not monitored in the countries where horse slaughter is allowed

So far we have been able to stop the slaughter of horses in the US, but the greediest of the greedy are working to open horse slaughterhouses in the US.  They want to profit from the BLM's unnecessary roundups and may already be doing that by selling wild horses to blind buyers who turn around and sell to killers who haul the horses out of the country.  Just another scheme to make money, and a heart breaker for those of us who know and love horses.

If you love your dog or your cat, you know how we love our horses.  None of this killing of pets for food should be taking place.  I actually love cows and pigs and my husband who soon as kill you if you mess with his chickens.  The only answer and the right answer is "do not eat any meat"!

fizzingwhizbee31
fizzingwhizbee31

@dreed3333 @fizzingwhizbee31 @SmallSpeakHouse Iwasn't denying with the cultural aspect of what's considered taboo to eat. Eating the flesh of another living being IS barbaric. There's no way around that.  I think my point was missed. As I stated, I don't eat meat at all anymore & for one of the reasons you stated. As I sat with my 2 parrots one night eating a chicken dinner, I saw the hypocrisy of it. Just because of "culture," one bird was considered a pet & the other was considered dinner. That was my "ah-ha" moment. Certainly, you can't deny the horses' contribution to mankind. You also glossed over the companion animal aspect of the horse. You didn't comment on that. Does that mean you think eating dogs & cats is okay too? I'm curious about that. Doesn't that sit even a little bit wrong with you? What if you heard that your neighbor was eating dog meat? Would your view of them change a little? The discussion we're having doesn't include cultures we might view as being so different from ours. We're talking about the French, the Dutch, the Belgians, the Japanese. Granted, the Japanese culture would be the one most different from ours as Americans or Europeans. But all of these cultures have benefited from the vast contributions of the horse--including the Japanese. All of these cultures view horses as companion & entertainment animals as well. That's why I don't understand their treatment once they are no longer viewed as "useful". Good grief! Horses have been decorated in battle & been made officers for their contributions to the military! So even the military--an organization based in killing & violence at times--recognizes the contribution of the horse. I'm also curious as to your feelings about the inhumane treatment of animals raised for food & the inhumanity of the slaughterhouse. Also--yes, the animals raised for food ARE given a vast amount of drugs, but not to the extent horses are given unless they are wild. We are already becoming aware of the dangers of antibiotics, hormones & steroids given to food animals. What's given to a horse throughout its life is much greater than what's given to a "food" animal during the course if its own very short life. Horses are also given vaccinations several times a year. Looking at this in a purely analytical perspective, what effect might all of this have on the people who eat them?

fizzingwhizbee31
fizzingwhizbee31

@AceNavigator @fizzingwhizbee31 @SmallSpeakHouse I agree with what you said & in fact, have been a vegetarian for many years because I can no longer bring myself to take part in the cruelty that makes up our factory farming & slaughter practices. However, I believe the significant difference here is that horses have made a much larger contribution to the world & are also considered to be companion animals. I do NOT mean that cattle are less worthy of life & yes--there are many that have contributed to mankind on a larger scale than providing sustenance for humans. There are NO animals that are slaughtered humanely & if you think there are, you are misinformed. I am merely pointing out that we consider eating dogs & cats to be barbaric. Why? Because we love them & they love us in return. We don't eat them when they are no longer of any use to us. Most horses have served us & loved us all their lives & deserve the same respect we give other companion animals. I have had to euthanize several horses over the course of my life due to old age or traumatic, irreparable injury & have done so via the veterinarian, even though I could have made a couple of hundred dollars by sending them to the slaughter house. Maybe that makes me impractical, sentimenta & stupid, but hey deserved better than that from me. They gave me much love and happiness during their time on this planet. They deserved my respect every bit as much as my other companion animals. Check on the Internet for further info on how animals are slaughtered. Youtube can SHOW you how humane we are to them. Also check for info on how "we" treat chickens, turkeys, cattle & pigs. The trip to the slaughterhouse is probably as good as life gets for these poor creatures. At least their suffering ends on that day.

fizzingwhizbee31
fizzingwhizbee31

@lannyb1@aol.com @fizzingwhizbee31 @SmallSpeakHouse Thank you! You have made several VERY good points. Even if a person is NOT a horse lover, these are excellent reasons NOT to eat horse meat. The chemicals they pump into animals we DO eat are bad enough. Horses are routinely dosed throughout their lives.