Do you think you might have eaten horse meat?

  WhiteTruckMan 09:26 AM 12 Feb 13
Locked

Based on the recent revelations on what has been contaminated, (Findus) I think it probable that I have. I've no objections to the consumption, and have deliberately done so in the past, but I for one find this disturbing, as if the perpetrators (and there is no doubt in my mind that this is a deliberate long term act) have mislabelled meat then they would have no scruples about passing off meat that was unfit for human consumption also as fresh meat.

Does anyone else think they have eaten this mislabelled food, or feel this way?

WTM

  Forum Editor 09:35 AM 12 Feb 13

Like you and many others I may have eaten horse meat without knowing it. I've certainly eaten it deliberately in the past.

It doesn't worry me that I may have eaten horse meat instead of beef, but the potential you've mentioned - of contaminated meat finding its way into processed products - does concern me. That said, I don't know how anyone could devise a foolproof method of preventing it. It's easy to say that our government should introduce monitoring, but in truth it would be almost impossible to produce a system that worked efficiently.

  Quickbeam 09:44 AM 12 Feb 13

I read something in the paper the other week when all this first blew up, the columnist asked if the legal requirement of beef in a beef burger was only 46% "what did we think the rest of an economy burger consisted of?". My view is that an economy burger just a flat beef sausage, don't expect more.

With a decent premium burger you can visibly see the course ground meat, with a layby rat burger, you only see a flat grey frozen grill pate.

As for eating horse meat, it's sort of halfway between beef and venison. But in this country there is a cuddly rabbit notion towards horses.

  wiz-king 09:46 AM 12 Feb 13

The problem is a technical one, to get a representative sample of a pallet of meat you would have to either sample every animal or at least the square root + one of the number of carcasses or sample it after it has been minced. Then you have to run the test which could take several days and tell the testing apparatus what you are looking for.

Likewise the 'problem' of Bute in horse carcasses, testing for drug residues takes a long time and is expensive.

  morddwyd 09:53 AM 12 Feb 13

Deliberately, yes. Accidentally I don't think so.

The only burgers I ever eat are veniburgers from a nearby deer farm, and I'm not a pasta person so spag bol and lasagne are non starters.

On the other hand I'm very partial to a plate of mince and tatties so it is possible.

  spider9 10:18 AM 12 Feb 13

I'm afraid it's something we'll just have to get used to, part of the 'global' nature of food commerce - sellers will buy from wherever is cheapest - so you will get 'dodgy' dealers all over the world.

As with other things, the criminals will always find ways to circumvent the authorities and so, short of stopping all cross-border food movements, there is a limit to what's possible.

  john bunyan 10:33 AM 12 Feb 13

I used to work in a major meat manufacturing company, and we slaughtered our own pigs, and bought beef, lamb carcasses from inspected slaughterhouses. No way would it have been possible for horse meat to have entered our food chain. I suspect that this story will run for a while. First it shows that some companies - Findus, Aldi etc have been too trusting of their contract manufacturers. Secondly there are two risks 1. I heard that in Ireland alone up to 70000 horses have had false "chips" (which are meant to hold the animal's history),inserted . Some of these may be "condemned". Then there is the slight risk of "Bute" as mentioned earlier. Horse meat as such is healthier than beef - less saturated fat etc., but if you buy a "beef" product, you should not be supplied with horse.Heads need to roll in the Quality control departments concerned, and there is no doubt a criminal input here. This will take a while to sort out but hopefully the controls will be tightened up all round.

  Forum Editor 10:41 AM 12 Feb 13

"With a decent premium burger you can visibly see the course ground meat"

Yes, you can see coarse ground meat but it could as easily be coarse ground horse as beef. That's the problem - you can't tell what's in a processed food without proper laboratory tests, and those would need to be carried out at each stage of the meat's progress from the abbatoir to the factory which packs the finished product for sale.

In between those two points there may be several stages, and the meat may have travelled a thousand miles or more from its source. It's a monitoring nightmare, and although it might be viable to do it with high-cost items it might increase the eventual selling price of the very products which are most likely to contain horsemeat - the supermarket budget ranges - by an unacceptable amount. In the end the consumer will pay.

  john bunyan 10:49 AM 12 Feb 13

"In between those two points there may be several stages, and the meat may have travelled a thousand miles or more from its source. It's a monitoring nightmare, and although it might be viable to do it with high-cost items it might increase the eventual selling price of the very products which are most likely to contain horsemeat - the supermarket budget ranges - by an unacceptable amount. In the end the consumer will pay."

I doubt if there would be a huge difference. The majority of these products do not contain any horse - the Findus and Aldi examples , and others, are still the minority and many suppliers have tight control over their supply chain yet still compete. Maybe there is a market for "Horseburgers" at a lower price?

  Bing.alau 10:56 AM 12 Feb 13

Slightly off subject, I am wondering why all this good food is probably going to be wasted. Could these perfectly good Horse-burgers and other wrongly labelled food, not be used to feed some of the starving in this world? I read somewhere that ten million burgers were taken from the shelves of various supermarkets in this country alone. I would have been quite willing to have bought some of these for my own consumption. I too have eaten horse in the past having got a taste for it during the war when it was fed to dogs on a farm where I worked.

  john bunyan 11:37 AM 12 Feb 13

Jock 1e

If you could prove harm, maybe a claim might succeed eg if "Bute" (the horse drug, not your beautiful island!) could be proved to have been in a product and expert evidence showed you had been harmed, then a case may be viable. Otherwise I suspect you are only entitled to a refund or replacement on the grounds that the product - beefburger, or whatever, was not of the product description in that it contained unlabelled horse.The sellers and suppliers may well be liable for the false labelling but I suspect that prosecutions should and maybe will be brought by Trading Standards, since, as you say they should check their goods and suppliers.

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