Reverend Colin Biggs - When is beef not beef?
WHEN is beef not beef? Of course, we all know the answer at the moment – when it is horsemeat, or pork, or anything else.
The scandal over the tiny amount of beef in some foods labelled as consisting of "100 per cent beef" continues to make news and it is a problem for all of us.
It may be thought that vegetarians and vegans would not be concerned over the ratio of beef to horse in a frozen burger – and put like that, they would not.
But the fact that a burger can be labelled as containing 100 per cent beef while actually containing a great deal that is not beef will concern them greatly. How can they be sure that the packaging declaring something "suitable for vegetarians and vegans" is honest and accurate?
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We all depend on labels, every day, and not just the labels on food and other purchases.
We depend on the label that says this person is a teacher or a police officer, a doctor or an electrician.
We rely on the truth of such labels so that we can put our trust in that person's abilities.
But labels do not tell the whole truth: the 'teacher' may also be a wife and mother; the 'police officer' could also be a Scout leader; the 'doctor' might be a musician and the 'electrician' a keen footballer.
We all have different aspects to our lives that can give us different labels.
There is one label which we all wear – we are all human beings.
Unfortunately, there are some individuals where the truth of that label is tainted: greed, selfishness and a total lack of concern for others leads some people to act in an in-humane way.
"100 per cent human" is not always true.
Fortunately, as with the beef-labelling scandal, it is only a small percentage of the total who are so mislabelled.
We depend on labels; we rely on the honesty of labels.
Let us also look beyond the labels we apply to other people and seek to strengthen the reliability of the label that reads "humanity".