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Seniors’ Xmas ragout turns out to be dog food

Hungry pensioners received a shock when a local charity meal delivery service brought them dog food rather than ragout for Christmas.

Seniors' Xmas ragout turns out to be dog food
Pensioners and dogs: not to be confused. Photos: DPA.

Local newspaper Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung reported on Friday that at least three senior citizens were brought the dog food during the week of Christmas by charity Osnabrücker Tafel – a service similar to Meals on Wheels.

Apparently it was the puppy chow's packaging that led to the confusion. The dog food was presented in a glass jar labelled “from the land” and “meat dish in a glass”, describing the contents as “venison and potatoes in garden vegetables.”

It was only in small letters at the top that the product was described as “gourmet food for animals” with instructions on the back describing how much to serve a dog based on its size.

But the dog food's packaging was so enticing that several seniors overlooked those key words – or perhaps were unable to read them – and one pensioner proceeded to heat the sauce in a pan.

“Only upon the resulting smell did the person become suspicious and went for a magnifying glass,” a source told the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung.

An employee of the Osnabrücker Tafel charity told the newspaper that there was one case where the person did not notice that they had been served dog food in time.

The Osnabrücker Tafel says on its website that it collects around five tonnes of food surplus from sponsors every day, sorts the products at their headquarters and then brings them to families and individuals in need.

“Our warehouse manager sorts through many tonnes of groceries every day and it is possible that due to the design of the packaging, he did not notice,” said Dieter Möllmann, the outgoing chief of the charity, adding that he could not rule out that  others had also received the dog food.

“We are extremely sorry about the mix-up,” Möllmann continued. “Due to this incident, we will advise all stations within our operations to in the future go over and check groceries more carefully.”

The manufacturer of the dog food insisted to Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung that the packaging clearly states that it is dog food both on the front and the back, but also said that it is harmless to humans.

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Germany’s Scheffelbrücke: Everything you need to know about the ‘world’s most expensive bridge’

Germany's Scheffelbrücke might not seem like much to look at, but by some accounts it is the most expensive bridge in the world. Here’s what you need to know.

Germany's Scheffelbrücke: Everything you need to know about the ‘world’s most expensive bridge’
The Scheffelbrücke in Baden-Württemburg isn't known for its astounding beauty or engineering prowess - but it is known for its price tag. Photo: Heinz Seehagel, Creative Commons.

If you’re travelling near the Swiss border, you might come across the Scheffelbrücke – a quiet, two-lane bridge over the Radolfzeller Aach in Baden-Württemburg. 

By bridge standards, the 20-metre concrete construction seems relatively unremarkable – until you take a look at the engraved sign on the side which quotes the price tag. 

A sign on the bridge references the incredible price of the bridge: 1,520,940,901,926,024 Deutschmarks. 

That’s 1,500 trillion marks. 

Why is the Scheffelbrücke Germany’s most expensive bridge – and why is it so drab?

While Germany has the money and the landscape to have some expensive bridges, that over the Aach hardly rivals the Golden Gate, London Bridge or Sydney Harbour for elegance or ingenuity. 

The bridge, completed in 1923, takes the name of Joseph Victor von Scheffel, a German writer who will forever be associated with the glorified concrete slab. 

While one might suspect pork barrelling or crafty accounting as a reason for the astonishing cost – or perhaps a trick to reel in the tourists to the otherwise unassuming village of Singen – the cost is in fact real.

The high price is a consequence of the out of control post-World War One inflation which hit Germany, where money almost completely lost its value. 

A sign for the bridge reveals its extortionate building costs. Photo: Heinz Seehagel, Creative Commons.

Local authorities, wanting to boost the economy, signed off on the bridge as an infrastructure project. 

As a consequence, some local workers presumably became millionaires as a consequence – although there was perhaps little meaning to the idea of being a millionaire when a billion would only buy you a concrete bridge. 

Fortunately, Germany was able to bring inflation under control and wheelbarrows full of money were no longer required to purchase basic things.

And almost a century later, when not taking wacky inflation into account, Germany’s ‘most expensive bridge in the world’ no longer has that title. 

That goes to the Oakland Bay Bridge in San Francisco (no, not the Golden Gate but the other one), which cost 6.3 billion US dollars – or roughly 5.2 billion euro  – to build. 

The Oakland Bay Bridge however goes for eight kilometres and possesses some of the aesthetic qualities which one would expect from the most expensive bridge in the world. 

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