One thing which has always annoyed me is food nationalism – you walk into a supermarket and are met with posters like We only sell Swedish meat. Not that the Swedes are the only culprits – shopping in Denmark can be equally irritating.
There are of cause economic motives behind this – by presenting their meat as somehow superior, local producers and distributors try to fend off foreign competition – but I always get this feeling that there is an element of hidden racism is this as well. Our meat is pure but yours is tainted! (and as a consequence, we are pure but you are tainted). Alleged eating habits can also be used as insults – Americans eat fast-food, right? And how about those sausage-eating Krauts? Or the cheese-eating surrender-monkeys.
Sausage-German, bizarrely, is the favourite Danish insult against Germans. The poor Germans might be excused for having to put up with this from the country which has fought hard to keep the chemically enhanced red sausage.
Anyway, a number of recent revelations have shown the prime Swedish meat is not always what you would expect. Just before Christmas, the famous (or infamous, depending on your point of view) TV reporter Janne Josefsson could show us that a number of ICA stores instead of following food regulations and discarding unsold minced meat simply repackaged and re-dated it and put it back into the counters. After first trying to explain everything as mistakes by untrained staff who were unaware of food safety regulations, a number of ICA traders found themselves out of their jobs.
Apparently ICA traders are too busy to follow the news. (Who am I kidding here? Ever heard of the 11th Commandment?)
Minced meat is one thing, but what if you are sold prime Swedish meat which is not exactly what you thought you were buying?
A couple of days ago, local newspaper VK published a story accusing Ammarnäs Vilt – based in Vilhelmina – of selling Reindeer skav (sliced frozen meat used for a kind of stew) containing a substantial amount of beef.
The owner and manager of the company first claimed that as the company also processes beef, someone might have made a mistake in the packaging process. Then she admitted that the mix had happened on purpose. The staff is happy to tell us that the mix not only happened on purpose but that the owner of the company had been the driving force. Axfood, which buys renskav from Ammarnäs Vilt, is not amused and other local producers of reindeer meat are busy distancing themselves from Ammarnäs Vilt.
I can only say that I have eaten Danish pork – and even roast duck in France – and lived to tell the tale.