Latest news from Big Barn and our producers.

Shocked to see horse meat in burgers and ready meals?

Should we be so shocked to see horse meat and other hidden dodgy ingredients in a food industry that has such a long supply chain and dominated by huge profit focused corporations?

It started with traces of horse meat in Economy Tesco Beefburgers. 3 weeks later, a reported 100% of the stated ‘beef’ in Findus Lasagne could be horse meat. And some may contain ‘bute’ a pain relief drug for horses that can cause the serious blood disorder aplastic anaemia in humans.imgres

It seems amazing that such a well known, and ‘trusted’ brand could allow this to happen. However, brands like Findus are traded between multinational companies, and the length of the supply chain, including foreign suppliers, put continual pressure on cost cutting. As a result cheaper ingredients are almost bound to appear.

Perhaps this ‘scare’ will encourage more people to look at the label. Like the economy burgers I once found in a school kitchen that were mainly water, rusk, reconstituted chicken (bone, connective tissue, skin) and only 8% beef heart, (yes the heart, not steak or mince). It was amazing to find the burgers I was making from local, grass fed, mature, lean, mince, cost only a fraction more.

Your friendly local butcher?

Your friendly local butcher?

A butcher on our BigBarn map last week told me that new customers were coming in to the shop and talking about the horse meat scandal. He was delighted with the new business and took extra time to talk about where his meat came from, and his competitive prices compared to the supermarket.

He also told me that if he had added horse meat to his burgers, locals would have thrown bricks through his window.

No one has thrown a brick at Tesco and my butcher friend is rather frustrated that their clever marketing may protect them.

The BigBarn local food map

The BigBarn local food map

Since we launched BigBarn 12 years ago we have been warning about the dangers of the national supply chain and trying to build a shorter, more transparent, local food supply chain.

Since 2001 then we have experienced BSE, Salmonella, and foot and Mouth, food scares and I am sure we will see more.

So if you want to know where your food comes from type your post code in to and our local food map will show you local suppliers. And don’t be afraid to ask questions. Your demand will encourage further production and help build a more sustainable LOCAL food supply chain.


  1. Well said Big Barn! I agree with the butcher – sadly the supermarkets have very clever (and large-scale) PR which will protect them. It’s time for the British public to vote with their feet and support their local food producers.

  2. Martin WINLOW says:

    My feelings are that this storey is just another typical UK food scare – whose main ‘benefit’ will be to solely sell newspapers and therefore indirectly, advertising. Are todays consumers really so naive that they believe that when something says it is ‘beef’ that it only contains meat products from a cow? They’ll be saying next that shoppers believe labels that say ‘packed in the UK’ means that the contents actually originated in the UK!

    Whilst clearly labelling something as ‘beef’ when in fact 80% of it or more is, in fact, horse – or any other meat for that matter – is fraud it certainly isn’t earth shattering news that should fill the national news bulletins for days on end.

    If people are up in arms because the ‘contaminant’ is simply horse flesh, then they are just hypocrites. Meat is meat. Either you feel it is OK to kill and eat animals for nourishment and use the by-products of this process or you don’t.

    All I want to know is whether this food is safe to eat. I have not heard anything yet to the contrary despite the inordinate amount of extra scrutiny that has been going on for the last 2 weeks – so can we move on to something more interesting/important now, please?!

    • bigbarnblog says:

      Hi Martin and thanks for your comment. I do think this is a typical food scare from a very dodgy food industry owned by profit focused corporates. I don’t think however that it is designed for the press or that consumers are being naive to believe what is on the label.

      Most people are very worried to see that 100% of the beef has been replaced by, possibly, bute contaminated horse meat. Like me they begin to wonder what other dodgy ingredients have been used to cut cost.

      In answer to your question, yes, the food is probably safe to eat but I wouldn’t touch it with a barge pole. You can buy much better food from your local butcher or farm shop and save money by cooking yourself.

  3. Sylvia Woon says:

    go vegan , its a much lighter happy life.. and nothing has to suffer for it.

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