Monday, 5 March 2007

The Story of Beef

Kill it, Cook it, Eat it

5th March 2007

The Story of Beef

When I started thinking about writing this review I was determined I was going to be as unbiased as possible, however the longer I watched the program for, the more I realised that it just wouldn’t be something I could do. The program to me seemed to imply that it was going to show the story from both sides, but it was certainly in the favour of the meat eater, concentrating on how the animal must have been in good conditions to be producing such healthy meat, but didn’t even mention the small cages they were kept in before they were killed.

It appears from the introduction of the program that people are demanding to know more about where their meat comes from and are buying more ‘quality’ and organic meats since the outbreaks of BSE and Bird Flu. So the program is here to prevent the slow down of the sales of meat but reassuring people it isn’t a problem.

We then look at the farm that the animals are reared at. The animals are supposedly kept in great conditions and fed good quality food before being slaughtered but the pens are crowded and we never see a picture of a cow in a field. The farmer says the calves are taken from their mothers at 6 months old, when the mother has apparently had enough of them anyway! We see a mother with calves in a pen that is barely twice their total size, so its no wonder she is desperate for some freedom.

We are now shown round the abattoir by a vet talking about the killing process like it is a lovely calm and pleasant experience for the cow.
When they bring the cows in we get very short shots of what they look like, we certainly don’t get to see into their eyes and get any evidence that the cow has a character.

The cow is slaughtered by stunning, cutting the throat to let it bleed out and then the head is removed. Soon the skin is taken off and the cow is cut up ready for the butcher. If you think I described that very quickly it is because it is how I saw it, maybe because I’m blocking out the horrible reality of what I saw. One minute the animal was alive and the next it was a steak, still warm.

From this point on the program seemed to move into a description of how the animal is checked for quality and how to see if the meat is from a healthy animal or not. The shots of the abattoir are stopped even though they are still working on another cow, as now they are looking at the animal as food we don’t want to make the connection.

The meat is cooked and then all the audience are shown eating it. They did show a few distressed audience members during the slaughter but didn’t show any during the serving up of the meat. Even the one vegetarian that was interviewed wasn’t shown after the meat was served. Although it was claimed that the audience was made up of vegetarians and meat eaters, I suspect she was the only veggie there.

The comments from the audience are very biased all taking about ‘craftsmanship and ‘quality’, and lots of people using the word ‘humane’. A lady who works in a fast food burger restaurant said ‘It was really quite nice the way they treated the cows and everything’.
To me it all looked like an advert for the meat marketing board, and certainly nothing near the unbiased view I was hoping for (but certainly not expecting). I hope the slaughter process made a few people look at animals in a different way, but I doubt this will be looked at in a positive way by many vegetarians.

Any comments you have would be really appreciated. I'm not sure if there is anything to be gained by me watching and reviewing the further two programs about lamb and chicken as I'm sure they will be more of the same, but let me know if you would like me to.


Rachel said...

I would be interested in a review as I cannot watch the program as I only have terestrial TV.

The approach of the program is interesting - faceless animal the whole way. I watched a program (with Hugh Fearnley Whittingstal) where people fed the animals and looked after them and then were invite dto eat them. They were then told that what they were eating was 'happy' meat and were shown how 'mass produced' meat was made. this was much beter I thought. Some of the people decided to stop eating meat and most of them decided they would eat happy meat. I think this is much better as it is a good start. If animals are treated well before slaughter I think this is a step in the right direction. We cannot expect the world to turn vegetarian overnight but if the animals are treated more kindly at least things are making a turn for the better.

Anonymous said...

Hi, the slaughtermen and the abbatoir were too clean.

The bbc should have turned up at a slaugherhouse that was not expecting them.

Some undercover filming should be shown on the programme, to show the truth of how animals are treated.

Michelle said...

I agree that it was too clean and the workers were working slowly and looked like they were caring for the animal when in reality it wouldn't be like that.
I would have like to see something more near to the truth on the program, but the who way it was shown