The Real Issues of the Horsemeat Scandal

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The horsemeat scandal has been making the headlines for some time now and has been on everyone's mind. At first glance, I couldn't fully grasp the extent of the problem; I thought it was being blown way out of proportion. I'm an (on/off) vegetarian so to me personally, eating horsemeat is no different than eating beef, same principal really.

Accordingly, my focus was on the manipulative intent behind the whole issue rather than the product "ingredients". As I read more on the issue, I started to understand the different aspects related to this whole situation. Obviously there is an overall negative reaction to this issue; however it is fueled by different motivations and concerns.

As I see it:

- Main Parties involved: - Consumer
                                             - Businesses
                                             - Food Standards Agency (FSA)

- Concerns: - Legal
                       - Ethical
                       - Financial
                       - Health and Safety
                       - Culture, principles and beliefs

Generally speaking, there are three main parties directly related to and affected by this situation. The first are consumers, who have come close to losing trust in the second party, the businesses (including distributors and suppliers) and of course the third component, the FSA whose official website sates "The Food Standards Agency is an independent government department responsible for food safety and hygiene across the UK. We work with businesses to help them produce safe food, and with local authorities to enforce food safety regulations."

In the United Kingdom, a consumer has the right to receive a precise description of a product on sale and to know its exact ingredients. Accordingly, there is a legal issue concerned with false labeling. In addition, some people are also concerned with the ethical side of the scandal regarding the misleading of both consumers and distributors by suppliers. The issue in this case does not only concern value for money or the quality of products, it mainly addresses trust and honesty.

The main motive behind this incident seems to be financial gain as suppliers sought to illegally increase profits and reduce costs, basically through swindling consumers and distributors- another offence legally and ethically. The most dangerous and important concern however may be health and safety risks. Tests are currently being conducted on horsemeat found in these products in order to determine the presence of any harmful chemicals which may pose health hazards. The last point, which may relate to unethical behavior, addresses the blatant disregard of a person's culture, principles and beliefs which may prohibit them from consuming horsemeat.

Maybe in the future, there will come a day where the selling of products which require the death of living creatures, as an ingredient, will be prohibited. At least for now, it would be nice if food industries could have the decency to let consumers know what's in their burgers and put a limit on the means of achieving higher profits.

Amr K. Moufid is an Egyptian student studying music in London. You can read more posts by him here.

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