Though we keep hearing the names Nestle, Ikea, Burger King, and Taco Bell, don’t be fooled: the tally is actually at 13.
It means that there are European consumers purchasing ground beef products that contain absolutely no cow. Horseflesh is being sold as cow, at the price of cow.
The scandal began in Ireland, when the country’s Food Safety Authority discovered that beef products were found to contain as much as 29% horse, and were being supplied to stores hailed for their cost-cutting and everyday value deals, such as Aldi, Dunnes, Lidi, and Tesco. In less than a week, Burger King’s UK arm dropped Silvercrest Foods as their meat supplier, who seemed to be responsible for the contamination.
Less than two weeks later, a second purveyor, Rangeland Foods, is suspended by Ireland’s Department of Agriculture after the plant is discovered to be producing raw materials that contain almost 75% horse meat. A day later, Freeza Meats is outed as selling meat that is up to 80% horsemeat. Within the next week, countless stores are forced to pull down “ground beef” products that are found to contain, in some cases, 100% horsemeat.
The month of February, 2013 was littered with recalls, broken contracts, and bad publicity: Nestle’s Buitoni brand, Ikea’s Swedish meatballs, Taco Bell’s ground beef taco meat, and countless British hospitals, schools and hotels were all forced to come forward, admitting that they, too, had been snookered.
Should we rest comfortably, knowing that the chance of these European products making it over to the United States is slim? Is horsemeat really such a huge deal? Is there a teachable moment in all of this for America?