Created on: January 30, 2013 Last Updated: February 01, 2013
In recent weeks the world was shocked to learn that horse DNA was found mixed in what was expected to be beef food products in the European market.
In findings published by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) on Jan. 15, 2013, it was reported that a study that had been conducted on beef burgers, beef meal and salami products. Tests were conducted for the presence of horse and pig DNA, and it was discovered some of the beef products contained DNA from both.
These results quickly spread through news and social media headlines.
The Irish food safety agency noted the concerns that have now arisen regarding the "traceability of meat ingredients and products entering the food chain". Since today's food chain is largely conducted on a global level, this leads to questions of where the meat comes from and in the processing of meat at the large plants.
In addition to several beef products testing positive for horse DNA, several products also tested positive for pig DNA as well, according to FSAI. This is unsettling to those individuals who do not eat pork for religious reasons.
"A total of 27 beef burger products were analysed with 10 of the 27 products (37 percent) testing positive for horse DNA and 23 (85 percent) testing positive for pig DNA. In addition, 31 beef meal products (cottage pie, beef curry pie, lasagne, etc) were analysed of which 21 were positive for pig DNA and all were negative for horse DNA," reported FSAI.
Several major food chains in the United Kingdom were affected by the mixed meat that was supposed to be beef. Tesco's Everday Value beefburgers "topped the adulteration league, being 29 percent horsemeat", reported The Guardian.
Other grocers, including Lidl and Aldi, also had horsemeat contained within their beefburgers as well.
The Guardian published a separate piece explaining the supply process and how it is governed. It appears there is a lapse in how it is governed as some of the responsibilities for food inspections have been segregated, making it a more difficult system and governmental cutbacks are likely also a contributor.
The revelation that people were buying horsemeat in their beef was, as expected, met with a lot of anger. Consumers are now questioning what it is they are buying and wondering whether or not the quality standards are safe. The Guardian noted that it is not illegal to sell horsemeat in burger, but legally, it needs to be declared on the packaging.
On Jan. 28, media reports indicated that some of the meat had been sourced from Poland. This set off anger with local farmers in the U.K., posing questions as to why beef cannot be sourced locally, reported Farmers Weekly.
Officials maintain that while the beef products were not 100 percent beef, that no public health threat was present in this scandal.
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A look at the horse meat scandal in European food supplies