I happened to be at the reception desk at the Newby Bridge Hotel when two officious looking men and a woman walked in. They produced badges and showed them to me. “We’re from the Food Standards Agency” one of them said “we need access to all your fridges”.
“Be my guest” I replied, trying not to look nervous. They then put on white protective over-garments and white overshoes and white hats and, looking every bit like technicians from a space lab on TV, set off for the kitchen and made themselves free with the contents of my fridges.
“We’re going to take samples of all your fresh meat, if you don’t mind” their leader said, as if I had a choice. It turned out that they had seen a sign outside my hotel advertising the fact that all my beef and pork came from rare breeds on my farm, and wanted to check if this was true.
“Has there been a complaint?” I asked. “Not at all” came the reply. “But we’re always on the lookout for claims like yours. We wouldn’t want the public to be misled”.
A few days later they came back with the result and I don’t know if they were happy, but I certainly was. Their tests proved that yes, my pork was rare-breed Middle-White and my beef was rare-breed Galloway, all of it from my farm. You can bet your life that if the results had been different they’d have had me in the Magistrates Court in a jiffy, facing a hefty fine. Small businesses like mine are easy meat for them.
Tescos on the other hand… Well, they wouldn’t dare would they. The saga of the horse meat burgers has been tremendous fun, and the jokes keep on coming. It came as something of a shock for the buyers of bargain-pack burgers to find that they contained 29% meat. Most people think they consist entirely of “pink goo” filler with added rusk. But beyond the merriment, isn’t it astonishing just how feeble the authorities in this country are being? The crime was discovered in Ireland, but it now transpires that the horse-meat had been imported from South America, via Holland. This isn’t something that can be laughed away. It’s about time those people from the Food Standards Agency donned their white coats and made some arrests.