There’s nothing wrong with eating horse meat: it’s disgusting, sure, but it’s also a very lean and nutritious meat. But if you were to buy something that advertised itself as “beef” and found that you were actually eating scabby ground-up Romanian horses and donkeys—you’d probably flip your lid.
Which is exactly what people in England did when they found out that local supermarkets had been inadvertently stocking products in which horse meat had been used as a substitute for beef. Then again, considering what British people normally eat, they probably got off easy.
The Diethylene Glycol Wine Scandal
Remember that episode of The Simpsons in which Bart goes and lives in a French vineyard and discovers that the evil Frenchmen who live there are lacing their wine with anti-freeze? Well, it was based on a true story—in Austria.By lacing the wine with diethylene glycol (a common ingredient in anti-freeze), wine makers were able to make up for a poor growing season of sub-par grapes, since seasoned wine lovers apparently preferred the taste of poison to sour grapes. Though no deaths were reported, the wine industry in the area was crippled—and when government officials poured thousands of gallons of the poison down into the sewers, they killed a bunch of fish in a neighboring town. Proof, if any be necessary, that fish just can’t handle their drink.
Even during the height of prohibition, people still managed to get drunk, and probably enjoyed it more than if they had been allowed to do so. A popular method of the time was to drink certain alcohol-based medical tonics, diluted with whatever mixer they had on hand.Jamaica Jake was one such tonic: though marketed as a headache cure, it for some reason had a seventy percent alcohol content. The supplier, in an attempt to keep up with demand and cut costs, laced the tonic with tri-orthocresyl phosphate, which caused paralysis in thousands of people drinking the product. Back in those days, it seems that you didn’t need to test the stuff designed to make people feel better.
Deadly Milk Powder
The stuff we shove down the throats of babies is very heavily regulated, because people like babies and generally don’t want them to die. Which is why this story of contaminated milk powder is China is particularly harrowing.Thought it’s not clear if the melamine present in the powder was included deliberately, what is certain is that the company selling it knew months beforehand but decided not to tell anyone. Thousands of babies were affected; somebody had refused to think of the children.