Not all countries in Europe shun horse meat,
as the sign above this butcher shop in Paris attests. But horse-eating
Europeans still don't like being swindled.
How did the Romanian horse meat wind up in the British spaghetti
sauce? Follow its path, and you'll get a quick tutorial in the
complexities of the global food trade.
Since horse meat first
turned up in Irish burgers four weeks ago, the saga of horse
masquerading as cow has become a pan-European scandal. Horse meat has
turned up in beef tortellini in Germany; cottage pies sold at schools in Lancashire, England; and frozen lasagna in Norway, England and other countries.
seeking the source of the horseflesh say it may have come from two
slaughterhouses in Romania, with perhaps a detour in Poland, before
wending its way through at least six other European countries. Along the
way, there were plenty of opportunities for it to have been mislabeled,
repackaged or misrepresented.
Here's The Associated Press's tale of the trail:
least some of the horse meat originated at abattoirs in Romania, and
was sent through a Cyprus-registered trader to a warehouse in the
Netherlands. A French meat wholesaler, Spanghero, bought the meat from
the trader, then resold it to the French frozen food processor Comigel.
The resulting food was marketed in Britain and other countries under the
Sweden-based Findus label as lasagna and other products containing
The European Union
announced Friday at an emergency meeting that it would start random DNA
checks on meat traded across the EU's porous borders.
On Thursday, three men were arrested
at British slaughterhouses on fraud charges. And Dutch authorities
Friday raided a meat processing plant suspected of processing Irish and
Dutch horse meat and selling it as beef.
It makes you wonder if there's anyone in Europe who wasn't in the horse meat makeover business.
that traditionally shun horse meat, like Great Britain, aren't pleased
to find they've been eating it unawares. And in countries like France that don't share that revulsion, consumers are angry about paying beef prices for cheaper horse meat.
coincidence, some of us Salties met up for coffee this morning with
Angelika Tritscher, a food safety expert at the World Health
Organization. Even though each country needs its own food safety
program, Tritscher says, "You really need to work together. A national
system alone won't do it anymore."
Her office has set up a network that helps countries investigate international food safety outbreaks, such as a 2011 outbreak of salmonella in the United States caused by pine nuts from Turkey.
the growing horse meat scandal makes it clear that in a world where
food markets often seem borderless, "buyer beware" remains wise advice.