/ Food & Drink

Your view: has horsemeat changed your habits?

A cow and horse in a field

The horsemeat scandal shook shoppers’ trust in the food industry, and we asked if you have changed your shopping habits since the story first broke. Are ready meals too much of a gamble?

We found that trust in the food industry has dropped by almost a quarter since before the horsemeat scandal. With six in 10 people claiming to have changed their shopping habits, we asked you if the scandal changed what you buy and where you buy it from.

Carole Noble has looked to the past for shopping inspiration:

‘I have definitely had my shopping habits changed since the scandal. I decided that I should shop as my mum did for us (butchers, bakers and greengrocer), that way I was very sure about what I was buying and the standards. I still shop in the supermarket for tinned goods, etc., but I’ve gone back to basics for meat, fish, veg and bread. I must admit I like it better and I feel more reassured that I’m buying what it says on the label.’

On Twitter, Tony Martin (@TonyOldbikerboy) is steering clear of ready meals:

Phil was never a ready meal fan:

‘I don’t eat much red meat and never buy ready meals. As Which? has exposed time and again, they contain high levels of salt and low levels of any quality ingredients. They’re also expensive for what they are. So in a word: no, the horsemeat scandal hasn’t affected my shopping habits.’

Mary Creagh (@Marycreagh_mp) and Mary Griffiths Clarke (@Marygwengriff) reacted strongly to the scandal:

Marcella Hickson saves money by shopping locally, in our Comment of the Week:

‘I haven’t changed my food buying since the recent horsemeat scandal as I have always bought my meat from the butcher, fish from the fishmonger and fruit and veg from the green grocer – I buy local and always know the source of my food. I never buy ready meals due to the high volume of sodium and potassium in them. My food bill is way lower than my friends. If you choose to buy cheap ready meals then are you really surprised that the content is not high quality?’

Marilyn Mountford (@MarilynMountfor) has a simple tip for meat-eaters:

Have you stopped eating meat altogether, swapped your supermarket for a butcher or carried on as normal?


I am confused. Specifically, I am not sure about the purpose of the weekly roundups on Which? Conversation. In this one, Katie has put together an interesting selection of points of view about horse meat, but if we start posting comments here we could have two Conversations without any significant difference in theme – which would be rather confusing.

What this ‘Your view’ Conversation does illustrate well is the opportunity to engage in discussion via Twitter, though the 140 character limit does detract from the possibility of making very useful comments. This week’s revamp of the website has allowed Katie to link directly to the comments made by Phil and Marcella, which is great.

It would be useful to have advice on whether or not it would be useful to comment on ‘Your view’ introductions or continue with the earlier Conversation. Maybe we could broaden the discussion a little more without being asked to get back on-topic.

To say something relevant, problems like the horse meat scandal could help most of us pay more attention to what we are eating, which is long overdue.

Sorry for the delay.

As you may have noticed from our previous comment round-ups, they didn’t really gain any comments. That’s because they don’t have a single theme to get people to read them. As much as we want to make a big deal about all the wonderful comments made on Convo each week, putting so many topics in one post was just leaving them unread.

So, with Your View, we’re experimenting by placing them around one theme or post. This one is very close to the original debate, but I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. It’s a chance for us to pull out some of the comments, and start another debate based on what’s said within those comments.

I wouldn’t particularly mind you going a little more off-topic on our Your Views if it made sense – the only thing is that I can’t really see people coming to do that, as it didn’t happen when we did have more general round-ups!

Glad you’re enjoying the new site functionality 🙂 Long time coming, aye?

Thanks very much, Patrick. It certainly is interesting to read the selection of comments in Your View. This seems to be a logical development of the presentation of opposing points of view as used in introductions to some new Conversations on a similar theme to earlier ones.

The direct links from recent comments on the homepage to the the full contribution is a tremendous step forward. I do miss the old rollover captions on the images – they are now the same as the Convo titles. They used to be informative and sometimes amusing. I still haven’t worked out the significance of the cartoon accompanying the one entitled ‘We put banks to the test on cash Isa advice…’

We’re giving banks the red card…

Anyway, that’s a bug. Our alt tags are there for usability reasons if people can’t see the pictures. I shall make sure they are reinstated. Thanks for spotting, it slipped through.

There is nothing wrong with horse meat,I have eaten it since the war time ,I was a comis chef in a night club in knightsbridge and was trained to “lard ” horse meat fillets , and trim other joints,it made fabulous goulash, and the fat after it was rendered produced lovely chips. A horse will not anything that you can’t eat, a pig is not fussy what it eats!! The real scandal is the subterfuge, you can purchase many types of animal meats quite openly, why not horse meat?
The sad part of shopping today, apart from butchers , is the supermarkets, most of the shops in my town are charity shops!!

It’s worth looking at the comments in the original Conversation, John. I don’t think that anyone is saying that horse meat is bad to eat, but many are concerned about not knowing what they are being sold and/or concerned about safety issues.

Meat is subject to tests to ensure that it is fit to eat. If someone is sufficiently unscrupulous to sell horse meat as beef, the meat could come from a diseased animal or one that had been treated with drugs, possibly both.

Counterfeit products are usually unsatisfactory in some way. If we buy counterfeit electrical products they can be substandard and even dangerous. Counterfeit alcoholic drinks can contain toxic substances. Counterfeit drugs may be ineffective.

susan says:
19 May 2013

I was keen to try horsemeat, but my local butcher didn`t sell it because of customer sensitivities. However I did buy crocodile, kangaroo and springbok, all of which were good, with springbok being my favorite. I think its a shame that people who want to try horsemeat, which is apparently good, and cheaper than beef, can`t buy it. It`s deception that`s the problem, not eating horse.

Audrey Blackman says:
16 March 2013

I don’t understand what all the fuss is about. People in Europe have always eaten horse meat and when I lived in Sweden I ate horse meat. Why can’t the consumer decide for themselves instead of the government having to decide for us once again? As long as it is included in the list of ingredients so that we know what we are buying, I can’t see the problem. I’m sick of being told what’s good for me. Also, why is a horse more sacred than a cow, lamb or pig? I’ve never understood why we have decided that some animals are more precious than others!

Phil says:
19 March 2013

1. It’s being passed of as something else.

2. It’s not necessarily been raised or slaughtered for human consumption so may have been treated with banned drugs or have diseases that ought to render it unfit.

If food retailers are just testing for horsemeat in our beef, how do we know if any other species are included. I miss my Waitrose and Marks lasagne terribly. No matter which recipe I try I just cant replicate the taste of the processed one,

I would like to try out more vegetarian meals, ones with all vegetables and not meat substitute but it is difficult to find easy recipes. I get turned off by too many steps and too many different ingredients in a recipe. I spend far too long looking for the ingredients so I give up. Then I go and cook meat and two veg or I have a processed meal. A roast dinner is the easiest meal to make, a few ingredients and a few steps to the point of serving.

The TV companies should have a cookery programme where we are shown how to cook simple meat and vegetarian recipes, with a few ingredients and a few steps to each recipe. This would be much more suitable than the complicated ‘recipes’ or experiments created by some TV Chefs.

richard says:
17 March 2013

I’ll eat anything – I ate Horse during the WW2 It is as good as beef — even eaten fox . But has my trust been destroyed in supermarkets?? It most certainly has – Though I’m appalled at the treatment of livestock in the UK – But that is because I used to run a small holding and the conditions that farmers kept their food animals was atrocious.in my personal experience.

I never bought Ready Meals although Supermarkets do small ones for singles and no i still buy steak mince if i want or Stewing Beef.I must admit though i wish i could buy at a reasonable price Direct from a Reasonable Local Farmer.So no it has not changed my shopping at all.The way this government is going about Welfare Baked Beans will soar in Price while the MPs get Subsidised meals and Drinks.

Anything you can’t see presents you with a risk! You can’t see car servicing. You can’t see a house until it is built. You can’t see how a restaurant meal has been prepared and you can’t see what went into a ready meal ! You can generally rely on bananas if the skin is intact! The horse meat scandal has not changed my habits. I always believed that most people who sell you something are liars but some are clearly bigger liars than others. Clearly it all depends on how likely they are to get away with it !

Sarah says:
27 April 2013

I agree with all five of the proposals in the current Which? Magazine regarding lessons to be learned about contaminated meat products. And I would add a requirement for meat products to indicate their food miles prominently on packaging in future. We al know that the horsemeat scandal was made possible by moving live animals around for slaughter as well as meat in various forms for processing.
We can all be much more aware of what is going on in our own area. So fewer ‘meat miles’ would also mean closer local scrutiny.