Over here we’ve had our spate of controversy over fillers in beef products but even talk of pink slime likely won’t provoke quite the reaction as telling someone there’s horse meat in their hamburger. The Republic of Ireland’s food safety authority (FSAI) says horse DNA has been found in burgers and other products purported to be made of beef in Irish supermarkets as well as in the United Kingdom. Cue shudders.
The FSAI found that burgers on sale in Tesco and (a store called) Iceland in the UK, and at Dunnes Stores, Lidl and Aldi in Ireland contained horse DNA but that weren’t any health risks involved in ingesting the meat. Just the personal “ugh” factor to deal with there, as many people in Western countries abhor the idea of eating horse.
The meat apparently came from two processing plants in Ireland, and retailers who received those products will be removing them from shelves. Of the 27 products under inspection, 10 contained horse DNA and 23 had some pig DNA thrown in for good measure. In one burger sample from Tesco, horse accounted for 29% of the meat content.
Officials acknowledge that while yes, this news is a bit sickening to many consumers, no harm will come to you if you eat horse.
“Whilst, there is a plausible explanation for the presence of pig DNA in these products due to the fact that meat from different animals is processed in the same meat plants, there is no clear explanation at this time for the presence of horse DNA in products emanating from meat plants that do not use horsemeat in their production process,” said the chief executive of the FSAI, adding, “In Ireland, it is not in our culture to eat horsemeat and therefore, we do not expect to find it in a burger.”
We hear ya. And it isn’t just those opposed to horse — many consumers don’t eat pork for religious or other reasons, so having that pig DNA show up in a beef product is a big no-no.
The technical director for Tesco is apologizing to the public for two of its frozen beef burgers that contained horse DNA. He said in a statement:
“The safety and quality of our food is of the highest importance to Tesco. We will not tolerate any compromise in the quality of the food we sell. The presence of illegal meat in our products is extremely serious.”
Iceland (again, the store, not the country) added that it has pulled from sale two of its brand quarter pounder burgers that contained horse DNA, saying it had noted the FSAI’s results “with concern” and “would be working closely with its suppliers to investigate this issue and to ensure that all Iceland brand products meet the high standards of quality and integrity that we specify and which our customers are entitled to expect.”
Aldi only had one product affected, one for sale only in Ireland. The company said “we have immediately removed the product from sale and have launched an investigation into the matter.”
We’re sure there would be a similar hue and cry in the U.S. if horse meat showed up on grocery store shelves, as our country has historically been averse to eating the widely beloved animals.