Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Fox in the donkey meat? I HATE when that happens

I guess it’s a given that everyone else’s cultural/religious/ethnic traditions are just plain weird, while ours – so blessedly unexamined  - are normal.

I remember as a kid reading about Tibetan Buddhist prayer wheels and thinking about how utterly peculiar a concept that was. It being Lent, I then picked up my rosary beads.

And those Mormons doing their after-the-fact ancestor baptism?Puh-leeze! Makes me want to pray for a perpetual indulgence so I don’t get stuck in Purgatory…

Then there’s the food thing.

Norwegians with their lutefisk? Gag, gag, gaggedy-gag gag.

But – not that I would ever have indulged – I thought it was completely normal that my father loved pigs feet, crubeens that were no doubt served at the Rogers Brothers’ Saloon.

One time a few years back, my husband and I were in a Boston Chinatown restaurant that was largely patronized by Chinese. There was something on the menu that I was curious about –  I’ve forgotten exactly what – and when I asked the waiter about it, he shook his head, “For Chinese people only.” Well, you don’t have to tell me that twice.

Anyway, there are all sort of food taboos, and one man’s meat is another man’s poison.

One case, which Pink Slip covered, was last year’s Burger King scandal, in which horsemeat made it’s way into the BK supply chain. (It takes two hooves to handle a Whopper…)

This year’s tainted food scandal, however, is a horse of a different color. It’s happening in China, and involves one of my favorite retail empires, WalMart.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc, the world's largest retailer, has recalled donkey meat sold at some outlets in China after tests showed the product contained the DNA of other animals, the U.S. company said.

Wal-Mart will reimburse customers who bought the tainted "Five Spice" donkey meat and is helping local food and industry agencies in eastern Shandong province investigate its Chinese supplier, it said late on Wednesday in official posts on China's Twitter-like Weibo. The Shandong Food and Drug Administration earlier said the product contained fox meat.(Source: Huffington Post.)

Donkey meat, huh?

Maybe if you five-spice it up, it tastes okay, but it certainly sounds gray and tough, doesn’t it?

And I don’t imagine that it being adulterated with fox would improve things all that much. Does rabies count as a sixth spice?

As for the impact on Wally, is there anyone other than the denizens of Bentonville who doesn’t chortle just a tiny bit when they see WalMart get in a bit of trouble:

"This is another hit on Wal-Mart's brand, meaning wealthy shoppers will start to lose the trust they had before," said Shaun Rein, Shanghai-based managing director of China Market Research (CMR) Group. CMR estimates Wal-Mart's market share fell from 7.5 percent to 5.2 percent over the last three years.

China is, of course, no stranger to tainted food scandals, and by tainted food scandals, this one is pretty low key.

Not all that much donkey is consumed to begin with. Only 2.4 million donkeys were slaughtered in China in 2011. China’s population is 1.35 billion, so, per capita consumption-wise, people aren’t pinning that much tail on the donkey. (For comparison, nearly 40 million cattle were killed for meat in the US that year, for 314 million people.)

While WalMart may be taking a bit of a PR (and wealthy consumer) hit on this one, Chinese consumers seem to be taking it in stride. One practically-oriented blogger even saw a possible upside,

"Isn't fox meat more expensive than donkey meat anyway?" asked one bemused user.

As for me?

When it comes to donkey, with or without fox, I’m guessing that waiter would be telling us, “For Chinese people only.”

No comments: