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Meat Scandal


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#1 Dignan

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Posted 14 February 2013 - 12:44 PM

So I guess today it's known that horsemeat found its way into a "fresh" product application, whereas before the products involved were frozen meals.

http://www.thesun.co...first-time.html

My impression of the products from over here across the pond was that they tended to be low quality items, but I was wondering if any of our egullet community had been consumers of any of the suspect products?

I suggested to Jay Rayner on twitter that a taste test was in order, but got no response.

#2 annabelle

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Posted 14 February 2013 - 03:32 PM

I'm not understanding why eating horsemeat is a bad thing. Of course, it should be noted on the packaging and not sneaked into the product.

I was under the impression (perhaps mistakenly) that horsemeat is sold in France.

#3 Dignan

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Posted 14 February 2013 - 03:47 PM

It was fraudulently sold as beef.

Horsemeat is sold for consumption in other places that aren't the UK. To the best of my knowledge, there's no tradition or practice of eating horsement in the UK. Folks from there can correct me.

Some of the horses, not groomed for the dinner table, have tested positive for equine meds that are harmful to humans.

IMO, what's happened in this instance is a bad thing.

#4 annabelle

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Posted 14 February 2013 - 05:32 PM

Thanks. All the reports I have read have been pretty sketchy and full of OMG! style reporting.

It was only today that I finally learned that there was a question about the meds given the horses and the possible effects on humans.

I agree that this was a bad thing and has been handled badly.

#5 Dignan

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Posted 14 February 2013 - 06:46 PM

Should i have the opportunity to have a horse steak in Belgium, i suspect i would try it under those circumstances. As long as it came with frites.

#6 liuzhou

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Posted 14 February 2013 - 11:10 PM

I have no problem with eating horse meat. In fact, it is a favourite.

However, I would have a problem with purchasing what I was lead to believe was one type of meat only to discover that I had been sold another. It is fraud.

And of course. I prefer not to eat horse medicine.

The only good thing that might come out of this eventually is that people might become less dependent on processed meat products and start using real butchers again.

#7 Mjx

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Posted 15 February 2013 - 12:07 AM

I'm not understanding why eating horsemeat is a bad thing. Of course, it should be noted on the packaging and not sneaked into the product.

I was under the impression (perhaps mistakenly) that horsemeat is sold in France.


In a lot of countries (not just France) horse meat is sold openly, and isn't regarded as unusual (e.g. in Italian supermarkets, packets of horse bresaola sit beside the ones made from cows, it's just one more type of sandwich meat). I've eaten it, it's fine, tastes a bit like beef, a little sweeter. Have to say my feelings on horse meat itself are essentially neutral.

It was fraudulently sold as beef.

Horsemeat is sold for consumption in other places that aren't the UK. To the best of my knowledge, there's no tradition or practice of eating horsement in the UK. Folks from there can correct me.

Some of the horses, not groomed for the dinner table, have tested positive for equine meds that are harmful to humans.

IMO, what's happened in this instance is a bad thing.


Horse meat as such shouldn't be much of problem, since over the millennia, people all over the world have cheerfully eaten it (including in the UK, e.g. "They eat horses, don't they?" Susanna Forrest, The Telegraph, 13 January 2013). Mislabelling it – I wish this went without saying – is clearly unethical, as well as illegal.

On the other hand, the presence of drugs harmful to humans is a significant problem, and if the animals in question were not raised for consumption, that's a legitimate and reasonable cause for concern (but this is a broad issue that is hardly exclusive to horse meat).

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#8 Harters

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Posted 15 February 2013 - 04:01 AM

Responding to the OP - no, I've not eaten any of the products so far discovered to be part of what appears to be a large scale criminal act of deception. Most of the products are low end stuff that I wouldnt be touching with the proverbial barge pole. If I want lasagne, I go and buy mince, lasagne sheets, etc and make one.
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#9 liuzhou

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Posted 15 February 2013 - 04:15 AM

If I want lasagne, I go and buy mince

I wouldn't even buy mince unless it was from a butcher I knew well and he minced it in front of me. Almost always, I do my own mincing.

#10 Dignan

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Posted 15 February 2013 - 10:02 AM

Thanks, Harters. From the news today, testing continues, and horsemeat was found in cottage pies prepared for schools and hospitals. I had been thinking that industrial canteen type operations would be a likely user of what was offered as an inexpensive beef product.

http://www.guardian....-hospital-meals

#11 Brainfoodie

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Posted 16 February 2013 - 10:19 AM

The BBC had an interesting article comparing the horsemeat fraud to the sub-prime crisis that triggered our current economical problems.

http://www.bbc.co.uk...gazine-21463838

As most will remember that was when good quality financial products were "packaged" with very poorly performing ones, but overall rated as good as the best they included and sold as such. One S&P analyst - who are now being sued for those misleading ratings - is even quoted as e-mailing: "We rate every deal. It could be structured by cows and we would rate it."

Well it turns out that the problem is these same analysts are the ones running the big agro and food business too.

This map showing the complex network behind a frozen lasagna makes it even clearer: http://www.bbc.co.uk..._1360859117.gif

How can the most cost effective method of making a cheap lasagna be a French manufacturer ordering from another French meat processor that in turn orders the meat from a subcontractor in Cyprus, who then orders the meat from a Dutch trader, who then actually buys it from Romanian abattoirs?

#12 rotuts

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Posted 16 February 2013 - 10:54 AM

the horse meat in those pies had to be cheaper by a fair amount to 100 % beef, or it would not be in there.

Ive had horse meat in FR. It was a much redder color raw than beef and it is sweeter. Its not bad, but i wouldnt seek it out.

#13 Harters

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Posted 17 February 2013 - 08:29 AM

How can the most cost effective method of making a cheap lasagna be a French manufacturer ordering from another French meat processor that in turn orders the meat from a subcontractor in Cyprus, who then orders the meat from a Dutch trader, who then actually buys it from Romanian abattoirs?


I suppose it is similar to the legal scam that allows the likes of Starbucks, Amazon & Google to avoid paying tax in the UK on their UK operations by routing much of the business through what are, effectively, dummy companies in other countries.
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#14 rotuts

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Posted 17 February 2013 - 08:31 AM

except what you describe above is electronic. Meat has mass and requires energy to transport. but interesting thinking!

#15 Keith_W

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Posted 17 February 2013 - 02:53 PM

Does anybody know what drugs have been found in horsemeat, and at what doses? 


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#16 Andrew

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Posted 18 February 2013 - 02:00 AM

I've read in various places that it is phenylbutazone which in the quantity you would eat from horsemeat is fairly harmless. Chef Hermes has an interesting blog post about it :  http://chefhermes.com/horsemeat/

 

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#17 CeeCee

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Posted 18 February 2013 - 04:17 AM

The scandal is all over the news in The Netherlands as well, but barely any suspicious products have been returned to the vendors. People are upset that their food contains something different than was communicated and of course horses are noble animals that are not regular consumed. At least that's what the majority thinks, but no one ever checks the ingredients of the very populair kroketten and bitterballen. These are advertised in the supermarkets specifically as horse free, but the ones sold in (snack)bars and restaurant do contain them. Nobody ever seems to wonder about those though, while the frikandel (another snack) has been subject of jokes containing everything from cow's eyes to god knows what. A bitterbal or kroket in the supermarket will not sell well if it states containing horse meat.

The most popular horse product sold as such is probably paardenworst, a sausage. Horse steak has some fans, but it's not readily available. Except for that one famous beef steak joint, that now points an accusing finger at the trader who points right back that they must have known they were selling horse steaks all along.

 

I've sampled one of the products that is under suspicion, although it was many years ago. I don't eat meat a lot and tend to avoid the really cheap meat containing products all together. I did find the suspicious 1 euro lasagne a whole lot more palatable than the 3 or 4 euro costing lasagne by the same supermarket.

 

As a horse lover, having trained and worked on a competitive level, phenylbutazone was the first thing that came to mind. Although prohibited since many years, it's still being used. I haven't seen any publication about quantities though and I wonder if they properly check for forbidden substances like this. Some horse meat sellers pointed out that horse meat is a lot healthier, because they're not produced for consuming and don't get antibiotics and such, which is a recquirement when producing on a mass scale I guess. In my opinion this is a ridiculous statement, but that's because I've seen and worked with sport horses that tend to get more care and substances to push their boundairies. These are the horses that end up at the butchers too, among the more recreational used horses.

The average age of a horse in The Netherlands is just 12 years old, which is way too young in my opinion as they can reach an age up to 30 years. With the economy being down, I guess only top of the crop can get picked and the rest ends up being a very cheap meat.

 

A Dutch tv show that investigates the food industry aired an episode where it showed that many Dutch horses end up at a Belgian market. From there the meat travels as far as Japan, where pony's are considered a specialty. I've yet have to come across a my little pony steak in The Netherlands though.



#18 dcarch

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Posted 18 February 2013 - 07:17 AM

I wonder what Mr. Graham Kerr's views are on this topic.

 

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#19 annabelle

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Posted 18 February 2013 - 02:47 PM

It sounds as if one would have to dine nearly exclusively on horse meat that was contaminated with phenylbutazone that had been administered in massive quantities in over to show side effects caused by other NSAIDs that are used for humans.  Phenylbtutazone was originally developed for use in humans in the late 40s, but is no longer prescribed.

 

The spotlight should be on the mislabeling firstly.



#20 PSmith

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Posted 19 February 2013 - 08:33 AM

Hmm - to beef or not to beef - that is equestrian?


I have eaten horse in France willingly.  I have also been served beef in France that was horse as the taste is a little different. 

 

Like Harters, I don’t have any problem with eating horse and I rarely eat a ready made meal.  Any minced beef I buy is from the butchers where I (hope) that it has been produced from the
cow.  But there is always that element of doubt, unless you make your own minced beef as Liuzhou does.


My Dad as a lad in the 1940’s, used to know of someone who would catch and kill cats and then sell them skinned and jointed as rabbit as apparently the bone structure and taste are similar. This was during the war when meat was scarce.  As a consequence, I always buy my rabbits complete with head and fur.

 

For me it is not the scandal of eating horse, but the deception that is the issue.  I am a little disappointed that the Supermarkets are not obviously carrying out their own batch testing on the products they are selling.


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#21 Kerry Beal

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Posted 19 February 2013 - 08:55 AM

It sounds as if one would have to dine nearly exclusively on horse meat that was contaminated with phenylbutazone that had been administered in massive quantities in over to show side effects caused by other NSAIDs that are used for humans.  Phenylbtutazone was originally developed for use in humans in the late 40s, but is no longer prescribed.

 

The spotlight should be on the mislabeling firstly.

Of course you might have phenylbutazone allergy and you wouldn't be expecting it to be an issue when you ate your burger.



#22 rotuts

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Posted 19 February 2013 - 09:26 AM

I knew a few of the side-effects then there is this:

 

http://www.webmd.com...sc&pagenumber=6



#23 Andrew

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Posted 19 February 2013 - 11:12 AM

I knew a few of the side-effects then there is this:

 

http://www.webmd.com...sc&pagenumber=6

 

The problem with this is that you can get a similar range of side effects from every day drugs. As always it is impact -v- likelihood.

 

My issue with the references to phenylbutazone is that it is a 'red herring'. If it is present all it shows is that the quality of the horse was not great! The real issue here is that people were paying for beef and were getting something cheaper that they did not want.

 

Andrew



#24 Edesia

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Posted 19 February 2013 - 11:54 AM

My main beef with the issue (groan) is the complete failure of a documented supply chain.

 

It's not just fraudulent use of horse instead of beef, it's the risk of phenylbutazone, other medication, and the fact no one knows if its a healthy safely slaughtered horse, a knackered drug loaded race horse, or the 6 week old maggot ridden carcass of a horse pulled out of a waterlogged ditch somewhere in Romania. It also puts into question the origin of all supermarket meat and processed meat, not just beef.  Hell, no ones tested for cat, dog and rat DNA have they, and although it never made mainstream news, if collagen farmed from executed Chinese prisoner's skin worked its way into the western beauty industry, what happened to the rest of the prisoner?

 

Whilst my local butcher displays the location of the farm, the breed, the day of slaughter and even ear tag number, I must admit I used to buy at supermarkets as well, had the odd bit of comfort food (Fray Bentos pies, ready meals, tins of ravioli and spaghetti) and would enjoy the odd fast food takeaway every now and then. Now I'm having to change my buying and eating habits to remove those altogether.



#25 annabelle

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Posted 19 February 2013 - 02:13 PM

To my reading, there is no risk of anaphylaxis.

 

Again, the scandal is the mislabeling of a product that is supposed to contain beef.



#26 slo_ted

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Posted 19 February 2013 - 04:42 PM

I remember when horse meat was a brief fad here in the US back in the 1970's. I was living in Tucson at the time and there was a butcher shop dealing exclusively in horse meat which I think was located on Speedway.  Horse meat was touted as healthier than beef--leaner, lower in cholesterol, etc.  My wife and I tried several cuts and of course ground horse meat, which if i remember correctly, we thought was the best of show.  IMHO it was not as good as beef.  The horse meat shop lasted maybe six months and vanished.



#27 Andrew

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Posted 20 February 2013 - 01:55 AM

I remember when horse meat was a brief fad here in the US back in the 1970's. I was living in Tucson at the time and there was a butcher shop dealing exclusively in horse meat.

There's nothing actually wrong with properly reared and butchered horse meat. It is served in various parts of main land Europe. It is a cheaper, leaner, sweeter version of beef that personally I think is ok but would not order it over beef (or various other meat). The issue is that people were being palmed off with something they thought was beef and was not.

 

The price of these prcoessed meals have become so low that corners were being cut / supply chains being put under pressure and taste did not matter.

 

Andrew



#28 CeeCee

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Posted 20 February 2013 - 06:31 AM

And they're going to court now. Authorities temporarily shut down the producer, but apparently this is only possible when the quality is questionable. Samples are being tested, but in the meantime the discussion about not delivering what's agreed on will be taken to court.

Media have been adamant that the quality supposedly always has been good, even when it isn't the 100% beef as promised.

 

The steak restaurant mentioned in my 1st post in this topic doesn't have an available table anymore. They admit to have known it was horse, but advertising it as biefstuk (beef steak) on their menu was purely for marketing reasons. This has been going on since 1949, including staff contracts to not ever disclose the 'beef' steaks real origin. To his defence, the owner did say he always told the truth when people asked where the meat came from. South - America! Honestly no one has
ever asked if the beef steak was really beef, he said. (Have you ever asked your waiter if your beef really said moo a few weeks ago?) And now his business is flourishing.

 

Food for thought I guess...



#29 LindaK

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Posted 25 February 2013 - 05:32 PM

The issue is getting coverage here in the States, though it's unclear whether any of these products are being sold in the US. Maybe the Ikea meatballs?

 

Ikea Withdraws Meatballs After Horse Meat Is Found

 

Horse a hidden ingredient in many European foods

 

 



 


#30 annabelle

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Posted 25 February 2013 - 05:39 PM

No Ikea meatballs in the States from what I have read and heard on the news tonight.