In the 'Wake' of a former PM's demise last week, I couldn't help wondering whether the re-emergence of the Vet drug 'bute' found in corn beef was, on this occasion at least, a crass April fool's prank dreamt up by Maggie's old allies to remind us of the lengths the Argentines will go to to weaken our efforts to defend the Falkland Islands. Maybe this is coincidence. But with an ill sense of timing. Whatever the reality ladies and gentlemen, another scandal hit our supermarkets and infiltrated the food chain. Let's not allow other events in the media to lessen the impact.
You don't need a healthy dose of truth serum to realise these deceits will persist whilst our food industry continues to operate on orchestrated short measures. There are widespread fears throughout Europe of continuing food contamination and epidemics concerning poor hygiene, where governments avoid taking decisive action to combat shortfalls, instead opting to undermine small business protocol. Of course the bigger issue should always be the imbalance between haute cuisine and starvation. Malnutrition too, is by far the biggest contributor to child mortality, present in half of all cases.
Why is it so difficult to monitor our intake, what preventive measures do we undertake to ensure we're not duped again and do we really care what we're digesting? Within a year, the reaction to the appearance of horse meat in our consumables has gone from mass hysteria to blasé punch-lines at meal times.
Horses for main courses maybe. But what about other outbreaks that have punctuated our cuisine in recent times. Allow me to regurgitate... Listeria, E. Coli, Salmonella, bird flu, Norovirus...
So, how does spurious DNA end up as part of our diet when daytime TV production is purposely littered with food programmes, cook books dominate the best seller lists and there are enough TV Chefs on the payroll to convince us that there's a different 'personality' Chef to cater for every walk of life? Well, these methods are devised to reach out to their audience not as a helpful guide or healthy education to be repeatedly spewed out to a participating nation but more succinctly, targeting the public’s buying habits. Mmm, too many cooks... We're food-obsessed for a reason!
Disturbingly, within so-called culturally advanced countries, individuals on low income find that an unexpected bill, a bank charge or an authority imposed fine requires an unpalatable dilemma between eating and settling up. But even if Wolves can be kept from the door, the matter of affordable 'value' foods is not appetising.... The alarming melting pot of sugar, salt, MSG and industry circulated rogue toxins are mainstay ingredients.
Why has everyone involved in this retail 'food-chain' been so accepting, even before we pose searching questions concerning ethical and humane issues? It's only now, when 'backs are against walls', that a recently new scapegoat is conjured up in the form of 'invisible' criminal gangs, to answer charges of deception, previously levelled at authorities. Was the industry previously aware or even interested? Thankfully there is always some minister or similar fat cat at hand to reassure us that panicking is unnecessary, attempting to force feed our memories like we're a gaggle of foie gras geese. Perhaps we also need to be reminded periodically that at least nutrients are plentiful/available here in the UK, which by contrast, are denied to many billions throughout less fortunate regions.
Also, school meals have again come under scrutiny but what of meals-on-wheels styled services or day centre cuisine? Typically, many pensioners are at the mercy of variables out of their own control and subsequently their needs are often neglected.
The failure to regulate food production is just one of a series of problems that highlight the cataclysmic decline in society. Maybe we can look to our past to recognise the future. In 1973, a film was released which depicted a dystopian world where society was riddled with poverty, overcrowding and green house issues. The plot is centred around the discovery of a secret ingredient of a new processed food. This cult B-movie is "Soylent Green" (ok, ok - I regret to inform you that it features Charlton Heston, though in an unfamiliar 'anti-establishment' role), perhaps you'll watch it. I first saw the film 4 years ago, since then I've had my fingers crossed that it's NOT prophetic.