5 December 2007, 11:00 p.m. Since one hour ago, we finally have our own official Swedish meat scandal. We had to wait for a long time. Europe’s cows have been mad for decades, and a year ago, Germany had its rotten meat widely publicized. Meanwhile, the Swedish customer kept cheerfully choosing between neatly labelled packages of beef from Brazil, lamb from New Zealand, pork from Denmark, entrecotes from Ireland, moose from the backyard, and of course, the holy and impeccable Swedish Assorted Meats.
On all meat sold in Sweden, the country of origin must be indicated as well as the day of packaging; it needs to be indicated whether the meat has been frozen before being put on display; there is a best-before date printed in letters big enough to see without reading glasses, and fresh minced meat is sold with an extra indication “ground today.” The meat is, as it were, wrapped in trustworthiness.
Today everything crumbled to bits. The big Swedish TV scandal-revelation-show Uppdrag Granskning had been secretly filming in four of the biggest and best-selling supermarkets of the ubiquitous ICA chain which, for the identity of the Swedish soul, is equivalent to Saab, Volvo and the Dala-horse put together and transformed into food sincerity and quality. What they filmed: old meat of various kinds being taken out of its packages and ground into hamburger meat. Meat from other countries re-labelled as Swedish. A chunk of meat dropped on the floor and put into a new package. And again and again old meat repackaged and re-labelled with a new best-before date as a matter of routine. Former co-workers admitting “yeah that’s the usual practice, we learn it on the first day.” The shop owners, confronted with the material, in grudging remorse. One was almost crying, as in “I am proud of my shop, but I am soo crushed that we’re crooks.” The highest ICA quality boss in open outrage. It was a sinister feast of glee for someone who just had Hassan’s excellent Zander, braised fennel with parmesan cheese and pilaf of red quinoa.
Now, what do I do with those sausages in the freezer?