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We eat better, cheaper food...and no one dies. Emma Duncan in The Times

We eat better, cheaper food...and no one dies. Emma Duncan in The Times

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Published by rob yorke

The horse meat hysteria overlooks how well our 'industrialised' food system works. An opposite view here - http://m.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/feb/16/horsemeat-or-not-all-junk

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The horse meat hysteria overlooks how well our 'industrialised' food system works. An opposite view here - http://m.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/feb/16/horsemeat-or-not-all-junk

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Published by: rob yorke on Feb 16, 2013
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09/17/2013

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The horsemeat scandal shows how well our system worksEmma Duncan
Published at 12:01AM, February 16 2013
Thanks to supermarkets and regulators we eat better, cheaper food — and no one diesI once met a man who looked after “high net-worth individuals” for Goldman Sachs. I askedhim whether the stinking rich were happy. Gratifyingly, he said that they weren’t particularly:they tended to be rather paranoid and obsessive. About what? I asked. Their health, mostly,he said: one of his clients had himself tested for cancer every time he saw a mole he might nothave spotted before.The horsemeat hysteria reminds me of that exchange. We have become the societal equivalentof my acquaintance’s spoilt customers. We don’t have enough real dangers to worry aboutthese days, so instead of being grateful for our good fortune, we focus on small flaws in ourlives, turning them into sources of horror and fear.Such is the scandal surrounding the presence of horsemeat in processed food. Ponyburgersare generally regarded as an indictment of our industrialised food business, run by large firms with global supply chains and vast distribution systems. By handing over control of the stuff of life to huge, faceless companies, it is widely said, we have replaced nourishing naturalproduce with tasteless, toxic fodder.This is exactly the wrong conclusion to draw. What the story really demonstrates is not how  badly our food system works, but how well it does.This is the biggest food scandal we have had since mad cow disease, and nobody died.Nobody, so far as I can tell from reading the few comments made by people who actually know about this stuff that are buried among the yards of overwrought drivel, was remotely atrisk. Sally Davies, our chief medical officer, says that you would have to eat 500 burgers madeof 100 per cent horsemeat to get an effective — not a risky — dose of the painkiller bute that isused on horses and has been found in some samples.The worst that happened is that some people, quite unaware of it at the time, ate some meatfrom animals that are not part of this country’s regular diet, though they are commonly consumed in cultures whose gastronomy we normally revere. What the eye doesn’t see, as Isay when I scoop the children’s dinner off the floor, the heart doesn’t grieve over — but that view does not help headline writers on slack news days.It is absurd to make such a fuss about a dash of Dobbin in our lasagne. By and large, our foodindustry serves us exceedingly well. It produces grub that is cheap, varied and safe.Cheapness, although not regarded as a virtue among the bien-pensants, is a good thing. Itmakes food affordable for the poor, and allows the better off to divert cash to other

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