Hamburger meat is never the healthiest option, but it does come with a few basic assumptions—like that it’s made from cows. But in British and Irish supermarkets, officials found horse DNA hanging out in supposedly all-beef patties. Ireland’s food safety authority traced the tainted meat back to two processing plants in Ireland, Liffey Meats and Silvercrest foods, and one plant, Delepak Hembleton, in Yorkshire, England, the BBC reports.
Horse meat poses no health risk, but unless shoppers happen to be French or Japanese, the idea of tucking into Mr. Ed may not sit well with them. The Irish food security chief commented, “In Ireland, it is not in our culture to eat horsemeat and therefore, we do not expect to find it in a burger.”
In 10 out of 27 batches of burger, the officials found horse DNA. In one of the patties from a Tesco supermarket, horse meat accounted for a whopping 29 percent of the total meat content. And in 23 of those samples, pig DNA turned up, too. In 31 “beef” products, including cottage pies, beef curries and lasagne, 21 also contained pork. Again, there’s no health risk for eating a bit of pork with your beef pie, but for some religious groups, traces of pig in their food may be unacceptable.
The officials say there is a plausible explanation for the pig DNA, since the meat from different animals os processed at the same plants. Horses, however, raise concern.
While officials are investigating further, in the meantime all of the suspect meats have been pulled from store shelves. Tesco, one of the supermarkets where the tainted meat was found, told the BBC that they are taking the presence of “illegal meat” on their shelves extremely seriously. So far, the processing plants denied ever trading in horse, and they’ve launched an investigation into continental European third party suppliers.
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