IT IS hard to believe that just £1 can buy you a Tesco beefburger complete with cheese and bun and fries – and it even contains real meat.

The fact it is horse meat has caused a stampede among supermarket giants to clear the shelves of 10million potentially dodgy burgers.

But this horse has bolted. The UK Food Standards Agency is considering legal action after horse DNA was found in burgers that Irish and Yorkshire factories supply to Tesco, Iceland, Lidl and Aldi.

Most had only small traces, but 29% of the 'beef' content of one Tesco burger was actually horse.

Some burgers also contained pig DNA.

You wonder if the same can now be said of every pork sausage?

The factories blame suppliers in Holland and Spain for using contaminated ingredients.

But, the fact is, supermarkets haven't a scooby about what happens in meat plants.

They take the contents of their products on trust, assuming everyone is honest.

It is not illegal to sell horse meat in the UK, but it is illegal not to declare every ingredient on food labels.

Horse meat is probably more nutritional than beef and safe to eat, but how can you be sure when you have not got a clue where it is from?

If devious suppliers saddle us with horse because it is 75% cheaper than beef, are you surprised?

Are we to believe their horse has been well fed, is safe to eat and does not contain dangerous contaminants or medicines?

There is a huge trade in ex-racehorses. They may be past their racing sell-by date, but their best-before days are just beginning.

The French include 70,000 horses a year in their stable diet. Animal-loving Britain – which baulks when asked to differentiate between a pet and a portion – sends 10,000 a year to the Continent, and they have been sending them back in burgers.

I am surprised we have not yet heard of a new inquiry into the disappearance of Shergar. Makes you wonder what became of all the old greyhounds.

Never mind 29% horse, I would be more concerned about what is in the remaining 71%.

We have always had our suspicions about what is really in pies, sausages, chicken nuggets.

Most processed meat contains carcass scraps which, if seen in their raw, pre-cooked state, would have shoppers reaching for the sick bag.

You can hide a lot in a mincer, and you need to when you are using MRM.

That is 'mechanically recovered meat', produced by forcing beef, pork, turkey or chicken under high pressure through a sieve to separate the bone from the meat tissue and gristle.

It is known in the trade as "pink slime" and was linked to the BSE crisis in the 1980s.

As I said last week when talking about feeding the world's increasing population, in years to come people will be delighted to eat anything they can find.

Meantime, I think I am flogging a dead horse. But then, it seems I am not the only one.

nSCOTLAND'S chief medical officer caused much nodding of heads with a bold diagnosis for Glasgow's need to improve parenting skills.

Sir Harry Burns reckons some citizens are not so much sick as lacking in basic skills.

He believes the depth of this city's ill health can't all be blamed on drink, drugs, fags and junk food.

Too many babies, he says, are born to parents who have no clue how to raise them.

Sir Harry has "never met a poor parent who wanted to be a poor parent. They just are clueless and want help".

Let's hope they listen to him.