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something to chew on?

By ATWadmin On April 5th, 2008

Mince! Beef Mince! Steak Mince! Ever given it much thought? Of course not! It’s one of the great traditions of British cooking and culinary delights. From ‘Mince and ‘tatties’, through ‘Spag Bol’, Shepherds pie and everything in between, it’s been one of the great backstops of everyone from students to scholars. Provided it’s properly cooked, and seasoned beforehand, mince is a tasty, nourishing and above all safe basic protein for all who eat it.

So why am I writing a diatribe about a staple of the British diet? Well, if our political masters in D.E.F.R.A. don’t get their collective skates on, and deliver a reasoned and scientific ‘technical’ objection to the E.U. Commission in Brussels, our beloved food will, of necessity, become totally different in taste, much higher in price and considerably rarer in butchers shops and supermarkets than it is today! Notice the ‘kicker’? Of course you did; it was the E.U. Commission! Now what does the E.U. have to do with the make-up and provision of a foodstuff which has fed generations of English, Scots, Northern Irish and Welshmen?

Well, it’s all about Steak Tartare. You might well reply “Huh?” You’d be wrong. Steak Tartare is a favourite meal of many French families, quite a few Belgians and a whole chunk of Germany as well. Steak Tartare is, by definition, finely ground RAW beefsteak, seasoned with various spices and with the yolk of a raw egg binding the whole chunk together. Never having tasted it, but having watched as another consumed it with some relish (if you’ll excuse the pun), the Steak Tartare is considered very tasty, but it is still RAW MEAT.      So some two years ago, the dietary section of the E.U. Commission heard about some food poisoning cases in America, brought on by the consumption of Burgers which, in American style, were served almost raw in the centre. Now the Yanks can, and in fact do, take care of themselves, but our Brussels friends started the process of legislating and produced a set of Regulations which are law, once scrutinised by the various national Parliaments, within all the Member States. They produced a blanket ban on the sale of minced meat, which of course in France is Steak Tartare, with a butchered time of more than six days. Their reasons were a little bit twisted, in that they seemed to think that all meat is hung out in normal air, and so determined that the meat would start to go ‘off’ after six days, which is why the ban.

But they forgot all about Great Britain, where ALL our beef is ‘hung’ after slaugther for anything between three and four weeks; but it is hung and stored in a chilled environment, which allows the meat to relax, and the texture becomes tender. In a standard temperature of less the 8 degrees Centigrade, NO bugs can survive, much less reproduce, and when our minced beef is delivered to the counters, that is probably the first time that it has reached room temperature.

Tricky what to say when you are the Commission, and your latest triumph is found to contain dicey and curdled decisions, and the ‘Science’ is wrong as well!

20 Responses to “something to chew on?”

  1. Mike,

    I confess I never really gave much thought to meat hanging before reading your post. Very interesting.

    Are you sure about bugs being zapped at under 8°C?

    This chap talks about 4°C.

    Cooking the food will kill most bacteria but keep in mind that some bacteria and teit toxins survive high temperatures so it is most important remember to keep food hot until eaten or Alternatively chill in small containers and freeze as quickly as possible. Bacteria cease to be active at temperatures of less than 4 degrees centigrade.

    BTW, tartare is delicious! I was introduced to it by a Francaise who didn’t tell me what it was. Having bitten the bullet, as it were, I developed a taste for it.

  2. Is it beyond the wit of the EU or other authorities simply to insist on warning labels that differentiate mince as being suitable for making Steak Tartare or not rather than insisting all mince on the market having to match such exacting and rare standards.

  3. is DEFRA THE dept of agriculture or whatever controls the beef industry in GB?

    And who runs it? It sounds like if no one told the git, he should be monitoring the rules his comrads in the EU are implementing.

  4. Colm,

    "Is it beyond the wit of the EU or other authorities simply to insist on warning labels that differentiate mince as being suitable for making Steak Tartare or not rather than insisting all mince on the market having to match such exacting and rare standards."



    "is DEFRA THE dept of agriculture or whatever controls the beef industry in GB?"

    Partly. They dropped the "Y" to defray the cost of their shingle.

    DEFRA = Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

  5. I dunno mike – with stuff like mad cow disease from eating bad meat. As regards food, Idon’t think they can legislate too much.

  6. mad cow desease can’t be cooked out of beef.

  7. ‘mad cow desease can’t be cooked out of beef. ‘

    I realise that Troll. I’m simply saying that in the food industry I’m not against Europe over legislating. I think its in all our interests that they are thorough as can be, and if that means more rules it’s fine by me.

  8. Cait

    There is such a thing as throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Food is a great pleasure but you can’t eliminate all risk. To attempt to do so by too much legislation would end up with us all munching sterilised lettuce leaves and little else. I’d rather eat well and die young than spend 80 years eating boring bland overregulated pap.

  9. So die young Colm, thats your choice. One can still eat well and try to eliminate as much risk as possible.

  10. what you should be against is Europe legislating ANYTHING for Great Britain

  11. Troll what I should be against is for me to decide, don’t you think?

  12. Then why let the EU make the decision for you on what type of beef your allowed to buy? I mean they are saying their against the way your beef is handled. And they are making the decision that you should not be allowed to buy it.

    So it’s OK if a Government makes the decision for you? What a good little drone you are comrad

  13. Cait –

    It doesn’t matter what you’re against if you’re made to obey rules from unaccountable foreigners. Don’t like the latest EU diktat? Tough. You can’t vote them out.

    Good grief, were generations of poisoned dupes dropping dead whenever they ate a meal wherever you you are? I doubt it. I suspect you and yours are perfectly capable of putting food on the table without a bunch of unaccountable foreigners to protect you.

  14. Mama/Troll –

    Some people love their slavery.

  15. This nonsensical EU directive has had a lot of air-time on the farming programmes on the radio, and it’s getting a real panning from the beef producers too.
    As one farmer pointed out, you cannot ‘hang’ mince by itself; the whole carcass is hung, which means ALL the cuts will only get the 6 day treatment.
    Flavour, tenderness and cookability will all be compromised if not allowed to mature for several weeks.
    The good news is that there may be an opt-out for the UK because of recent food poisoning scares associated with Steak Tatare.

    I presume Muslims have an automatic opt-out over Halal meat as EU legislation on this subject is non-existent.

    Wonder why?

  16. Bernard,

    "Flavour, tenderness and cookability will all be compromised if not allowed to mature for several weeks."

    I asked Mike about this earlier. What does "to mature" mean? Does it mean, as I believe it does, that the meat is starting to "rot" or in other words that bacteria have been allowed to do their work?

  17. Dawkins.

    No it’s not bacteria that tenderises meat but enzymes that naturally occur in all muscles. It is a form of ‘marinading’ over time.
    Pheasants are hung for about a week, for the same reason.
    This is why offal and muscle are kept separate. The former contain an-aerobic bacteria that produce toxins that can be deadly. Cf. Botulism. (Botox. Same toxin! used cosmetically).
    Aerobic bacteria are also a bit dodgy but only give mild food poisoning and are easily killed with heat or even sunlight. Cf. Biltong. (Mike Cunningham will know about this).

  18. I understand where you are coming from as regards these EU ‘orders’, but only yesterday we had a farm locally which had on it loads and loads of rotten animal carcasses. This same farm not too long ago was a very cruel puppy farm yet even after that, they were free to do this sort of thing.

    Lets face it in food as in drugs regulation is needed and it needs to be enforced and heavily enforced. Look at the schools recently with the outbreak of e-coli? The hospitals with c-diff? Drugs with more harmful side effects than the illness they are trying to cure.

    And that is in a time of regulation, yet all this still happens. If it takes regulation to get on top of it, then it takes regulation to get on top of it. Nothing to do with slavery, and everything to do with eradicating risk to the general public.

    You guys would still complain if it was Westminister doing the regulating, and call it big government.

  19. Cait –

    Yes, I would complain about any big government, because I’m not infantilised and I’m capable of managing my own life.

    Producers and suppliers of bad food go out of business. That’s the best regulation there is. If one thoughtless individual fails to clean a surface or uses the same knife on a carcass before turning to the veg, all the regulations in the world don;t matter.

    So you have a farm locallywith rotten carcases and another which mistreats dogs – how does having your right to govern yourself taken from you deal with that? Is your society so backward it cannot declare such practices out of order? I doubt it, but what is so depressing is the casual ease with which people like you demand a continent-wide totalitarian state (that is what you argue for when you argue in favour of the EU) to deal with matters which are individual in nature, occasionally local and rarely national.

  20. Bernard,

    Thanks for the heads-up!