Over the last few days the press in the UK, and indeed Europe, has been dominated by allegations that beefburgers in some of the U.K.'s major retail outlets were found to have traces of horsemeat. The situation has most visibly impacted the share price of Tesco, knocking a reputed £300 million off the value of the company, although many people around the world are wondering why such a fuss over horsemeat?
Is this down to cultural differences?
Even just the quickest of glimpses at areas such as Europe and South America will show that horsemeat has been on the menu for many years now and indeed is seen by some dieticians as more healthy than beef. If you look at this from a pure dietary situation horsemeat is lower in fat than beef and when you also take into account the fact it is cheaper on the open market and has a distinctly venison like taste, why such a fuss?
Freedom of choice
The main reason why there is such upheaval and disgust in the UK with regards to the issue of horsemeat in beefburgers is because many consumers feel that they have been duped. It is also the fact that horsemeat is very rare in the UK and is not something which is culturally accepted or indeed something which has been a part of the UK diet looking back centuries. Despite the fact that many in the UK will eat beef and other animal meat there is a definite resistance towards anything involving horses and other "pets".
Religious dietary requirements
One of the main problems facing the likes of Tesco and other UK retailers caught up in the "horsemeat scandal" is the fact that some religious groups in the UK are not able to eat the likes of horsemeat under their strict guidelines and inadvertently they may well have done so in the past. It is difficult to see how this situation will pan out because there are growing concerns that this is only the tip of the iceberg and we may yet see other food scandals emerge in the weeks and months ahead.
Religious groups have so far remained fairly quiet after the scandal broke but upon further consideration we are likely to see some official comment from various religious parties across the UK.
Do you need to be open-minded to be an expat?
The very fact that the likes of horsemeat is fairly popular in places such as South America means that many expats who move to Brazil, move to Mexico, etc will at some stage come across this particular delicacy. If they were in their former homelands they would likely be repulsed at the thought of being served horsemeat but many expats are open-minded and considerate of local cultures, local cuisine and local diets.
Part of the issue for many when looking to move overseas to a new homeland is the fact that you do need to embrace local cultures, local diets and local cuisine. Whether or not you actively embrace these "different practices" is up to the individual but it is difficult to justify turning your nose up at horsemeat in South America when other countries around the world would likely be repulsed at the fact that UK consumers eat beef.
In many ways the ongoing horse meat problem engulfing the UK retail sector is due to the fact that many consumers feel duped if the initial tests showing horsemeat DNA in the likes of beefburgers are proven. There is also a cultural angle to this particular argument because relatively few people in the UK have or would ever consider eating horsemeat.
This perfectly illustrates why expats moving to new homeland must embrace and acknowledge the local culture, cuisine and dietary habits otherwise life in their new homeland may not be as sweet as they had hoped.