June 15, 2024

EU Will Test All Beef for Horse Meat

EU Health Commissioners Tonio Borg announced last week that meat products throughout Europe will undergo DNA testing to see if they contain horse meat. He said, “the tests will be on DNA in meat products in all member states.”

HorseThe horse meat scandal erupted in January 2013 after the Food Safety Authority of Ireland found horse DNA in some beef burger, salami, and beef meal products. Horse meat was also found in Findus lasagane sold in the UK. The findings increased concerns about labeling of food and security of Europe’s food system; but there is another problem. Some of the horse meat may contain the harmful drug phenylbutazone, commonly known as “bute”, that is given to race horses.

That drug is not approved for human consumption. Bute can cause aplastic anemia, but the amounts in horse meat are low enough that it is unlikely that anyone eating horse meat-tainted beef would consume enough to experience that complication.

Horse meat has been found in products labeled as beef available for sale in Britain, France, Sweden, Switzerland, Germany, and Ireland. ┬áThe UK’s Food Standards Agency raided horse slaughter operations in that country, detaining all meat product and paperwork. Andrew Rhodes, FSA’s director of operations, said, “I ordered an audit of all horse producing abattoirs in the UK after this issue first arose last month and I was shocked to uncover what appears to be a blatant misleading of consumers. I have suspended both plants immediately while our investigations continue.”

On Friday February 15, the FSA published industry test results on all beef products. They found that of 2501 products tested, 29 samples were positive for the presence of undeclared horse meat. At least 950 tests are still in progress. FSA Chief Executive Catherine Brown said, “in the vast majority of cases the results so far are showing that no horse DNA is present in the foods tested. But this is still far from the full picture and we expect industry to continue to supply us with regular updates on their testing regime.”


  1. Moral Hazard says

    Great artcle and always incredible website you have. This link keeps me abreast of ‘food’ production. I ama a vegetarian, so I feel about animals as “live and let live.” It;s sad to think of all the animals turned into human ‘food.’

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