UK media scoop Dead Donkey story
For the first time, UK journalists didn’t have to drop the dead donkey (journo jargon for a news item of no real significance placed at the end of a news bulletin or as a filler in a newspaper that is designed to be removed if a more significant story needs extra time or space).
The UK media – and now the European media – are headlining the scandal about horsemeat entering the European food chain disguised as beef. The story spread from UK superstores Tesco, Aldi, Lidl and Iceland (who have all been selling horsemeat labeled as beef) through the food chain to Burger King which has been putting it into its ‘beef’ burgers, and across the channel to the European frozen food supplier Findus which has been putting it into its frozen ‘beef’ lasagnes across Europe. And all the European food standards agencies and all the EU food laws have – yes, you’re right – let it happen.
Coincidentally, in the UK, a huge scandal broke around a major UK hospital – Mid Staffs Hospital – where up to 1,200 patients died through poor care, and a further 14 hospitals are now being investigated for deaths of similar magnitude. But this story paled into insignificance next to the horsemeat story… that is until donkeys entered the food chain.
A ban on horse-drawn or donkey-driven carts on the roads in Romania seems to have sent hundreds of thousands of the lowly, tired-out donkeys to the abattoir – and zip – into the European food chain, sold as yes, you’ve got it, beef.
The donkey story is even now being taken seriously by gastronomique experts, the French – well known for their consumption of horsemeat, but donkeys apparently are an animal too far for the French palate.
Those dead donkeys may have taken a long time to make their way through the food chain and onto the dinner plate – the donkey meat came from abattoirs in Romania through a dealer in Cyprus working through another dealer in Holland, to a meat plant in the south of France which sold it to a French-owned factory in Luxembourg, which made it into frozen meals sold in supermarkets in 16 countries – but onto the front pages of the TV and newspapers they came.
Forget the 1,200 or so patients that needlessly died in that badly run hospital where the people managing it are still in their lucrative jobs – I’ve got a dead donkey story – and I can use it!