Horse a hidden ingredient in many European foods

Horse a hidden ingredient in many European foods

So hungry you could eat a horse? Chances are, ifyou've regularly consumed processed-meat products in Europe, you already have.

Since Ireland published surprise DNA results on Jan. 15showing that a third of frozen "beef" burgers in Ireland contained atleast a trace of horse, food scientists in more than a dozen countries havefound the animal trotting into products where it was never meant to roam.

Daily revelations from an ever-increasing menu ofsupermarket, catering and restaurant goods have taught the world one lesson:When minced up with other meat or slathered with spices, consumers cannot tellequine from bovine in the food chain. European horse has yet to be detected inany American-sold products.


In fairness, IKEA never did call them beef balls. TheSwedish furniture giant has discovered that its signature cafeteria dish —spiced meatballs of mixed beef and pork — also might contain horse.

Ikea said Monday it was withdrawing stocks of frozen"Kottbullar" meatballs from stores in 24 nations, including Thailandand Hong Kong in Asia and the Dominican Republic in the Caribbean. Europeancountries affected were Austria, Belgium, Britain, Bulgaria, Cyprus, the CzechRepublic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy,the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Spain and Sweden.Somehow, the Swiss were spared.

IKEA was keen to stress that its U.S.-based meatballs wereall-American and not subject to recall.


This is the product that started the January stampede toEurope's DNA labs. Irish authorities doing a random quality check were shockedto find horse meat in frozen burgers produced for five Irish and Britishsupermarkets, and eventually traced the source to Poland. The Irish producers'top two customers — Burger King's British, Irish and Danish restaurants and theBritish supermarket chain Tesco — quickly took their business elsewhere.


There's something rotten in Denmark, but it's not the meatitself. The Danish Veterinary and Food Administration says a productenigmatically described as "pizza meat" and sold by the HarbySlagtehus meat wholesaler contains cow, pig and horse. The company insists itscustomers in pizzerias across Denmark knew the topping contained horse, even ifthat little fact was nowhere on the ingredients list. Government vets don'tbelieve a word of that.


Better make that "bolo-neighs." Many of Europe'sleading makers of microwaveable frozen foods — including Birds Eye of Britain,Nestle of Switzerland, and Findus of France — found that some suppliers hadmixed horse into the ground beef used for Europe's most ubiquitous pasta sauce.


Not to beat a dead horse, but Europe's food-testing labs areindicating that any factory-made pasta product containing "beef"sauce or filling might be horse in drag. Among those caught at the DNA finishline are the frozen "beef" lasagnas of Birds Eye; Nestle's Buitonibrand of ravioli in Italy and fusilli in Spain; and Combino-branded tortelloniand penne in Austria. France's Comigel blamed the discovery of up to 100percent horse in its "beef" lasagnas — sold under other brand names,including Findus and Tesco — on a complex supply chain stretching from itsLuxembourg factory back via Dutch and Cypriot middlemen to Romania horsebutchers.


Thank goodness there's no such thing (yet) as a beefdoughnut. In Spain, Nestle's recall of products includes meat-filled,semicircular pastries called empanadas.


You might be surprised to find horse meat hiding under afrilly layer of potato. British-style cottage pies, with gravy, beef andcarrots under the smashed spuds, have been withdrawn from scores of schoolcafeterias in England, Wales and Scotland after DNA tests found horse meatinside. France made similar discoveries in its potato-topped pie called hachisParmentier.


Mom might tell you to eat your vegetables, but the Nestleproduct recall in Spain included meat-stuffed peppers.


Once you've blended a handful of meats, does one more reallymatter? The Austrians found horse in kebab meat produced by a Vienna firm,Lilla Gastronomie, that was supposed to contain a blend of only beef, pork andturkey.


Fry 'er up: Despite sausages' worldwide reputation as afavored destination for mystery meat, only Austria has found equine DNA hidingin sausages, in two brands made by Josef Freitag, aka "Joe Friday."

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