Today's news, tomorrow's lesson - 16 January - Tesco saddled with PR nightmare as horsemeat found in beefburgers

The revelation that some beef burgers on sale in the UK and Ireland contained horse meat and pork has ignited debate on the differing attitudes to what meat humans should or shouldn’t eat.


Today's news, tomorrow's lesson - 16 January

Tesco saddled with PR nightmare as horsemeat found in beefburgers


By Helen Ward

The revelation that some beef burgers on sale in the UK and Ireland contained horse meat and pork has ignited debate on the differing attitudes to what meat humans should or shouldn’t eat.

The burgers were available in some of the UK and Ireland's busiest supermarkets, including Tesco, Lidl, Aldi, Iceland and Dunnes Stores.

While Professor Alan Reilly, chief executive of the Food Safety Authority if Ireland, insisted there was no health risk, there are now investigations to find out how horse meat came to be in the products.

Although the main issue addressed by authorities is that a product should contain what it says it contains – the debate has become more about which animals should or should not be eaten.

"In Ireland, it is not in our culture to eat horse meat and therefore, we do not expect to find it in a burger,” Mr Reilly said. “Likewise, for some religious groups or people who abstain from eating pig meat, the presence of traces of pig DNA is unacceptable.”

Followers of Islam and Judaism – religions that reject the idea of eating pork – have reacted with fury to the news.

Eating horse meat is still popular in many parts of the world, including France, Italy, parts of south America and Asia. Mexico is the largest producer of horse meat - 78,000 tonnes in 2009. Connoisseurs say it is sweet, tender, low in fat and high in protein.

Consuming it is not illegal in the UK or Ireland, although for cultural reasons it fell out of fashion in the English-speaking world the 1930s.

One reason given for this taboo is that horses are “companion animals” – dogs and cats would be included – but this is also true in France, where horsemeat is sold in supermarkets.

However the idea of rejecting eating “companion animals” is not that simple. Indeed in the UK, rabbit recipes, although not necessarily widespread, are screened on Masterchef and the meat widely eaten.

And in 2007 chef Gordon Ramsay sparked a backlash when he said that horse should be served in the UK.



Questions


  • Do you think that there are certain animals we should not eat? Explain your reasons.
  • If there were no health risks involved, do you think it matters whether the meat was beef or not? Why/why not?
  • Does this incident change your feelings about how far we can trust food labelling?
  • Have you had an experience of eating something unusual that you would like to share with the class?

Related resources


Is it right to eat animals?

  • Explore the ethics of eating meat with these well-thought out lesson plans and activities.

Meat

  • Talk to pupils about meat consumption, nutrition and the use of slaughter houses with this PowerPoint resource.

Meat or vegetarian?

  • A worksheet activity about meat vs. vegetarianism and Christianity’s view on eating meat.

Religion and diets

  • A PowerPoint resource exploring religion and diets.


Further news resources


First News front page

  • Help your pupils understand the features of the front page of a newspaper.

Write all about it

  • Get students creating their own news report with this step-by-step guide.

What is the News?

  • A sociological and media perspective on what makes an event 'newsworthy'.

On the box

  • Help pupils to write their own TV news broadcast with this handy PowerPoint.

Structuring stories

  • A scheme of work to help students structure news stories.

In the news this week


The use of religious symbolism in public places and the right to wear items of religious clothing and jewellery is the subject of heated debate in many countries.

There is growing momentum around the world to re-examine the idea that all drugs should be against the law.

Why does hot water freeze faster than cold water? This conundrum has puzzled scientists since it was discovered by an African pupil 50 years ago.

As much as half of all the food produced in the world each year ends up being thrown away, according to a new report.



In the news archive index