As the horse meat scandal sweeps across Europe, shops and restaurants from Britain to Romania are recalling “beef” products tainted with meat from our majestic, four-legged friends. The United States appears to be safe from the scandal, with food inspectors insisting we have not been outfoxed by foreign meat suppliers. But just in case, here’s everything you never thought you’d need to know about horse meat.
The horse meat scandal started in January after Ireland’s food safety enforcer revealed that a selection of cheap burgers labeled “beef” had tested positive for horse DNA. Since then, countries across Europe have undertaken extensive food testing efforts — with unsettling results.
Horse meat has been found in mislabeled “beef” products sold across the continent. Ikea alone had to pull its signature meatballs from stores in 21 countries after tests detected the meat. U.S. stores have not been affected.
Authorities are quick to point out that the horse meat does not pose a health risk — it’s a case of mislabeling and deception. And with product recalls spreading across Europe like wildfire, it’s no surprise we’re looking at more than one culprit.
Suppliers from Britain to Germany to Poland are being investigated by food safety authorities, and it will take a while to get all the facts sorted out. Ikea isn’t the only high-profile company affected by the scandal — food behemoth Nestle also got duped by suppliers.
Swedish food inspectors reported that Ikea meatballs tested between 1% and 10% of horse meat. When findings exceed 1%, it indicates that the ingredient was mixed in during the cooking process, instead of resulting from accidental contamination.