Britain’s growing taste for exotic meats …
Oh, excellent! I love exotic meats – reindeer, springbok & moose from Lidl at Christmas was delicious!
… such as llama, cane rat (“succulent and sweet”), scaly anteater and monkey poses a serious health risk to consumers because many are illegally imported, can be riddled with disease and are not subject to food regulations, the country’s head of food safety inspections has warned.
Woah! Hold on. Monkey? Anteater? I don’t recall seeing those in Lidl!
“Animals that were not previously being thought of as food animals are increasingly going into the food chain,” said Andrew Rhodes, head of operations at the Food Standards Agency (FSA).
I suspect what he means there is, ‘animals Westerners never previously thought of as food animals’.
Because what we have here is, mostly, the bushmeat problem again.
“People’s tastes are changing and so are the animals they eat. A lot of people are trying different things and there has been an increase in the number of businesses being approved to slaughter various animals,” he said.
Rather disingenuous, isn’t it? Reindeer or moose steaks in Lidl for Christmas as a novelty, or zebra burgers in a Borough Market food stall, is not quite the same thing as an illegal trade in dodgy meat. Why conflate the two?
“Llamas are starting to pop up and turn into kebabs and burgers, and we are seeing a lot of other things turn up in the food chain that we need to start worrying about.”
Unless they are ‘starting to pop up’ in the same way horsemeat did – i.e. unannounced – why should we worry?
Although still relatively rare, llama is increasingly popular, especially among Britain’s gurkha communities, which regard it as a premium meat.
How odd! Nepalese Gurkhas wouldn’t consider the South American llama a food source, traditionally, would they?
But if it’s legally slaughtered by licensed food handlers, why should it be a ‘worry’ to Mr Rhodes?
“We are detecting more bush meat. People are bringing it in illegally to sell within certain communities. This is dangerous because it has not been prepared or inspected for illness and won’t have been refrigerated during the journey,” said Mr Rhodes.
I note he doesn’t mention those ‘communities’…
Nor is it just animals for consumption:
Mr Rhodes is also concerned about the dangers of plants. He is worried that paan – legally imported from Bangladesh and India and chewed neat as a palate cleanser or mixed with tobacco or spices as a stimulant – could cause salmonella.
Well, as head of the FSA, it’s his job to worry. So fair enough.
But call a spade a gardening implement, why don’t you, and stop conflating it with the legally-handled properly-regulated trade in exotic meat which shouldn’t really be causing you a problem.
“As people start to broaden their tastes, we are starting to see some issues around this,” he said, adding that Britain is working with other European governments to try to control paan imports.
People aren’t ‘broadening their tastes’. Mrs Miggins isn’t deciding on some anteater pate as a change from her regular steak and kidney pie, is she? Nor is she likely to consider giving the Elizabeth Shaw mints a miss and chowing down on some paan instead.
We know what’s driving this. It’s not changing tastes. It’s a changing population.