Is the Horsemeat Scandal in Europe a Wakeup Call about Ready Meals?

Market research group Symphony IRI Group have found that the sales of ready meals has slowed, this is thought to be a result of a combination between the ever rising prices and the horsemeat problems that were brought to light in early February 2013.

Unfortunately the drop in sales isn’t a result of a more health conscious nation; it is mostly a result of consumers no longer being confident in knowing what food they were eating. An expert from Food Safety Courses Norfolk advises consumers to only purchase food and meat from trusted vendors, ideally buy the cuts fresh so there is no doubt. Until new laws are passed that call for better food labelling it is best to avoid processed meats altogether if you are worried.

Horse Meat Scandal in Europe

Europe’s Horsemeat Scandal – Are You Consuming Mystery Meat?

“Some 50,000 tonnes of meat supplied by two Dutch trading companies and sold as beef across Europe since January 2011 may have contained horsemeat.”

-Source BBC News

Before the scandal, the ready meal market in Britain was reported to be the fastest growing category in groceries in 2012, with a huge 12% increase in sales in previous years. However, latest figures currently report frozen food sales down by 13% and chilled food down by 3% on last year. This is great news for our nutrition, waistbands and pockets.

Although ready meals are extremely convenient they are not very good for you:

  1. The process of freezing the food often degrades its taste meaning that extra salt, fat and sugar are added to help make up the lost flavour.
  2. To make sure the ready meals keep for a long time vegetable oils and unnatural preservatives are added – usually making the meal even more unhealthy.
  3. They are not nutritionally balanced – they usually provide too much of one food element and none of another. They are often far too high in protein and fat and lacking in vital nutrients that come from salads and vegetables.
  4. The servings are usually far too large –it’s important to portion it out correctly and not eat the entire box!

We all know that preparing food from scratch is the best way to eat healthily, but this isn’t always possible. Even the health conscious are increasingly turning to ready meals because it makes it easier control their portions and know the amount of calories they have eaten. This is ideal for calorie counters but not great for a healthy, balanced and nutritious diet.  It is very important to eat more healthy foods to get essential vitamins and minerals into your body.

If you do choose ready meals, consider the following.

  • Make sure you are eating the correct serving size – be mindful of ‘per serving’ and ‘per 100g’
  • Balance out the ready meal by eating it with salad or vegetables.
  • Eat some fresh fruit as starter or dessert.
  • Find ready meals that contain vegetables, whole grains – make sure the meat is lean – if you’re not sure opt for poultry or fish.
  • Or cook a little extra and freeze it for next time you’re in a hurry. You’ll know what’s in your meal and it will be free from oils, additives and preservatives.

Ruth Barton

Ruth is an enthusiast for all things web, she specialises in creating engaging content for online audiences and loves to learn new and share new ideas.

One thought on “Is the Horsemeat Scandal in Europe a Wakeup Call about Ready Meals?

  • April 29, 2013 at 5:44 am

    Sorry, am I missing something? I settled down to enthusiastically read about horse meat but the whole body of the writeup was lecturing me on ready food!


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