A beef-less week.

While Canadian beef products continue to be recalled, across the pond we are avoiding ready-made and frozen food, (poor us, I know). This clean eating has little to do with a burning desire to consume fresh produce, and more to do with avoiding horse meat... say whhhat.

Dubbed the "horse-meat scandal," the story begins in Ireland. In November 2012 the Irish Food Safety Authority (IFSA) ran routine tests on frozen beef burgers and various ready made meals for sale at an Irish grocery store. The IFSA found horse meat in 10 of the 27 hamburgers tested, despite the products '100% beef' label. While the initial discovery was made in November, the horse-meat scandal is a hot topic only now as IFSA continued to run tests for two months before revealing their findings to the public in mid January.
Mornings spent catching up on the latest scandal headlines. 
Continued testing has revealed the intensity of the scandal; blocks of frozen 'beef' in Northern Ireland containing upwards of 80% horse. Naturally these Irish discoveries led to other European states performing tests. One of the most alarming reports found that beef in French Comigel's frozen lasagna was up to 100% horse. Horse meat has since been found as masquerading for beef in the UK, the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Switzerland, France, and Germany, with the list continuing to grow.

Interestingly, the French scandal has been kept separate from the Irish scandal.  Comigel, the French producer mentioned above, has apparently traced the source of horse-meat in their products back to a Dutch meat trader who fraudulently sold Comigel's subcontractors horse-meat imported from South America and Mexico. The blame process here is complicated, with agencies arguing over who first approved the importation of the South American meat into the European Union. The Guardian has written a great article on the basics of the scandal and provided the image below to clarify between the two different beef networks.
Full article here
After the Irish FSA released its report, the finger pointing in Ireland and the UK began. The original Irish publication identified three specific beef producers as the source of the horse meat: Silvercrest Foods, Liffey Meats, and the Dalepak. Silvercrest and Dalepak are subsidiaries of ABP Food Group, a massive European beef producer which has been on the defense since the reports release.  

ABP Food Group has made several claims, first pointing the finger to continental suppliers, and subsequently claiming suppliers in Poland as responsible for the contamination. (The Polish government intiatied its own investigation which apparently found no irregularities in their domestic suppliers).

As far as I can tell, the Irish horse-meat scandal is far from over. The blame game continues while Food Inc. supporters are likely breathing a collective "we told you so" sigh.  While ABP's complicated supply chain continues to be traced, meat imported from Romanian has received the highest degree of suspicion; a ban on horses in cities are thought to have increased export of horse meat from Romania.  In addition, the Irish FSA is taking heat for not alerting UK Food Standards Agency of the issue in November. The IFSA claims they did, UK claim they didn't, and so on and so on. I can't keep up. Looks like another week of Quinoa patties!

In case you are interested in learning more, here are some links from around the web:
- The Guardian on Comigel
- FSAI press release
- Reuters on Romania horse-meat


  1. Quinoa burgers for life anyone?

  2. Ohh evidence you read through to the end! Or read the last line... either way. Good work.
    F discovered how to keep the quinoa patties from falling apart - my hero.


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