How Much of Mince is Meat?

The UK Government is set to allow supermarkets to continue to sell mince which is less than 50 per cent meat despite EU rules aiming to crack down on mislabelling of food. Officials say that stopping retailers from bulking up mince with fat and connective tissue would cost the industry hundreds of thousands of pounds a year. But with the revelation following closely on from the recent horsemeat scandal, it could raise further fears that Britons are inadvertently eating impure food. EU regulations set to be introduced next year will impose strict limits on the amount of fat and collagen which can be included in minced beef and pork. Lean beef mince will be allowed to contain no more than 19 per cent filler, while regular beef mince will have up to 35 per cent. Minced pork will be allowed nearly as much filler as meat, with a maximum of 48 per cent collagen and fat. Collagen, which is best known for its role in cosmetic surgery, is a protein found in animals’ tendons.

Currently a large proportion of the meat on British supermarket shelves breaches the purity regulations, meaning it could no longer be labelled as mince once the EU rules came into force. Ministers have therefore asked for an exemption – or ‘derogation’ – to the new regulations in order to safeguard the UK’s food industry, according to the Daily Telegraph. The Government claims that if the regulations were imposed in full, they would cost food manufacturers more than £800,000 a year. [Which compared to their profits is a mere drop in the ocean].

There is a simple way to know what you are eating in terms of meat. Ask your butcher to sell you the beef meat and mince it yourself. If you tell him you want it to mince he will guide you to what you need to buy. [When butchers mince the meat themselves they add fillers too]Then mince it yourself. Mincers are available from suppliers such as Lakeland. If you get into the habit of doing this you can be assured at least that you are getting 100% pure meat, and then go onto make your beef burgers or mince dishes from that. So if you are meat eater, put some effort into it and know what you are eating. Always try to eat locally grown meat. Ask the butcher if he knows where it comes from. He should. And try to go the a butcher rather than grabbing everything from a supermarket if you want to know what you are eating…
Meat prices are going to continue to increase hugely over the next few years due to several factors. The feed which animals are fed on is increasing in price, as harvests fail around the globe. Whatever is causing our climate to change, it is changing and we are experiencing more intense events around the globe, where systems sit over an area for longer and have a more destructive effect. This is likely to continue and it does indeed appear to be becoming more bizarre as the years go on. That I think we all agree on even if we cannot agree on what is causing it.  Countries that previously could not afford meat are now consuming far more because of their economic upturn, such as China, and the demand is increasing. When I was growing up, meat was an expensive commodity and this is largely where the Sunday roast came from. A family would buy a good quality joint of meat for the weekend. It would be a roast on Sunday, cold meat on Monday and what was left over would be finished off on Wednesday in various ways. My mother would mince it up, add remaining onions left over from Sunday, a bit of the gravy, top it with mashed potato and would produce the most exquisite “shepherds pie” I have ever tasted in my life. To this day I cannot replicate it! So one good joint a week would feed the four of us for 3 days. What they were buying was good meat, and not the meat products such as sausages, pies, mince, and so on. ‘Reformed meat’ such as you are eating when you buy ham and other “meat” products is another matter entirely and I will detail that on another post.  I think the point I am trying to get across is that it is better to buy less meat and know you are buying good meat rather than “fillers” with hidden contents in other meat products. We ate less meat but it was pure meat.
The other thing that needs to be said is the fact that a Sunday roast cannot be eaten on the hoof. In these busy times, I know fewer families are sitting down together and eating a meal. I know I may sound really old-fashioned here but I would like to see this return for many reasons, not least because in my experience both as a child, and then a mother…it is around that table that issues and concerns are raised. Bonding in a family is so vital, yet now it appears that many are in different rooms, doing their own thing and do not even encounter each other for meals! Some children have never known what a family sitting around a table for meals is, and how then will they pass this on to their own children? A family sharing food and eating and appreciating that food together is one of the oldest social interactions humanity has, are we so willing to drop it in a couple of generations? And what may the consequences of that be when added to the other fractures that families are experiencing?. Is this not one custom we would be best to hold onto? In about the 80-90’s television trays took precedence over the table, and people would balance their meals on trays whilst absorbed more with the TV than with each other and their meal. Perhaps it is when we fail to engage with the food that we are eating and the whole event, that our brains cease to tell us when we are full anymore and the tendency to over eat is a result? It’s a thought.
Next post…Home-made Beef Burgers

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