Wednesday, 16 January 2013

You are what you eat....

Which is probably why I'm a little hoarse this morning.

It's an interesting news story, that people eating some burgers have unwittingly been eating horses. Not least for the "urgh, I've been eating horse" reaction.

The French are renowned for eating horse, with few ill effects other than having permanent sneers and an interest in philosophy. There's nothing wrong with eating horse qua horse.

No, the problem is with traceability. If horse is getting into burgers without anyone knowing anything about it, then what else is? it's a bit like worrying that you swear a bit when you're bitching about your mates behind their backs. You can test for the DNA of a horse or a pig easy enough, but I suspect identifying the DNA of an old animal, or a sick one, is a different matter entirely.

We know what'll happen next, of course. Tesco will trace back down the supply chain, find the problem, stop it happening again. But the complexity of modern life is such that, in twelve months' time, there'll be another, completely unrelated, scare. People will ask why lessons weren't learnt, and the answer will probably be that nobody could imagine whatever happens next time, happening. A bit like, with current processes, nobody could imagine horses ending up in beefburgers.

It's a symptom of millions of human beings, with trillions of individual daily interaction, all getting on with things in an imperfect world. The cults of the Manager, and of Government, tell us that all things can be managed so that nothing goes wrong, if only the right places. In fact the world is complex, unpredictable, and prone to human fallibility. The best we can ever do - and it's worth doing - is try to limit the damage. In my case that means randomly checking the meals that Bernie serves us, for badger and/or fox DNA. Something like horse would be a refreshing change.

No comments :

Post a Comment

Drop a thoughtful pebble in the comments bowl