Victoria Martindale: No nasty surprises for those of us on a plant-based diet
WITHIN the space of 10 years, the UK has been gripped by foot and mouth, bird flu, mad cow disease, bluetongue, Schmallenberg virus, Bovine TB and now we have the horse-meat scandal.
We take it for granted that the food we buy to eat is safe and wholesome but, given this dubious track record of animal-derived products, we have to question if there is anything that meat eaters can safely eat nowadays.
Not only can meat contribute to all kinds of health problems that are well documented but it can also drive us, quite literally, bonkers from CJD.
And now it is revealed that we can't trust even the simple burger.
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As meat scares like these panic people into stopping eating meat, it gets pulled from the supermarket shelves and people, either through no choice of their own or out of desire for food they consider healthy and trustworthy, switch to meat-free products.
Lisa Drummy, co-owner of Fry's Distribution, a vegetarian food distribution company, welcomes food crises like this.
"Veggie food is simply a lot more transparent, from production right through to the family table," she says.
"People aren't just upset about the horse meat in their burgers, it is also about the product not being what they thought it was. They feel tricked or fooled. I think I speak for most of the major vegetarian food suppliers in the UK when I say people don't take those sorts of risks when buying plant-based foods."
Fry's is a totally plant-based product made in a dedicated vegan factory with GM free, ethically sourced ingredients, what it says on the packet is exactly what you get; no nasty surprises or additives thrown in.
As people start to question what exactly they are eating and think about safeguarding their own health and the welfare of animals, Fry's, along with other vegetarian food companies, offers a reassuring answer.
You don't have to feast on a diet of blood, flesh, gristle, veins, fatty livers, gut mucus, cow pus, bee spit, old nag or bits of scrap metal for the rest of your lives. Or put your health at risk while you're at it.
Any internet search will confirm that the most common types of food poisoning come from poultry, meat, dairy or egg sources. It is seldom a vegetarian who calls in from the toilet with a "tummy upset".
Will this latest scare encourage people to consider reducing their meat intake or cut it out altogether?
Possibly, going by past trends in response to similar alerts.
But, more pertinently, will the wave of negative public sentiment last?
This is more likely for families who are increasingly conscious about what they serve at the dinner table.
But, for everyone else, probably not.
If you ask me, I'll only tell you that one of the earliest signs of mad cow disease is confusion. When was the last time you ate a burger?