Gagging has been top of everyone’s agenda this week. For most of us, the ongoing saga of the meat trade is giving us our first unwelcome glimpse of the gut-churning world of abattoirs.
Consumers are starting to smell a rat as the revolting truth about the trade in animal parts bubbles to the surface and the unbelievable provenance of the ingredients in our processed food is revealed. The supermarkets dragged their feet about what really was in those ‘value’ ready meals and the rest of the so-called catering trade has now acknowledged the extent of their desperate search to be the cheapest. Experts say this is not the tip of a corrupt iceberg, but my guess is horseflesh will just be the first on a list of ingredients that you never imagined you’d swallow. The clue is in the word “processed”. At the point where you can see more of the packaging than contents of a food item in your trolley, you should be suspicious. If you cannot identify (let alone pronounce) anything on a list of ingredients, you can be pretty sure that it will have been pumped into your lasagne or your steak and kidney pudding through a stainless steel pipe connected to a slurry tank of God-knows-what! I could go on but my skin is crawling. I’ll leave you with the queasy words of a food pundit on a radio phone-in who asked: “What exactly does an abattoir do with all the horse and cow heads after butchers have taken the best bits?”… Take a wild guess! The phenomenon of gagging isn’t just a reflex caused by a whiff of dodgy grub. It also turns out to be part of many agreements that dismissed employees sign as part of their termination package. Out there in the competitive world of our health service there are people whose conscience gets the better of them and they find themselves compelled to blow the whistle on decisions. Usually these decisions are designed to screw every last farthing out of a budget and somebody somewhere in an office decides that if we lose a few extra grannies or terminal cancer patients suffer a bit more, it’s the price you pay for increased efficiency. The whistleblower sometimes gets offered a big pay-off and signs a confidentiality agreement effectively gagging him from talking to reporters or anyone else in their effort to cover up whatever scandal our hero had stumbled on. It’s a bribe! It stinks! But it’s happening all the time.