DUBLIN- Horse meat has been found in some beef products on sale in the UK and Ireland according to the FSAI (Food Safety Authority Ireland). Although it poses no risk to public health, for many people it is an ethical question.

As well as the traces of horse DNA, traces of pork were also discovered. 

The Irish Times reports that a total of 31 beef meal products, such as cottage pie, beef curry pie and lasagne were analysed, with 10 containing horse DNA and 23 that contained pig. The FSAI have said that the retailers would remove all implicated batches of the burgers. 

Irish Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney, deemed it “totally unacceptable” that almost a third of the meat content in a burger was horse meat. 

[Photo: Neil T via Flickr]

On sale in Tesco, Dunnes Stores, Lidl, Aldi and Iceland, according to the Irish Times, the products that tested positive for horse DNA were produced by two Irish plants, Liffey Meats in Cavan and the ABP-owned Silvercrest Foods, and by UK company Dalepak Hambleton, owned by ABP UK. The BBC says the reason given for the “contamination” was that the meats were being processed in the same plants.

The Guardian says that the scandal has wiped 300 million sterling off of Tesco’s market value and comes just as they were trying to assure customers of the “quality” of their products and services after losing market share to rivals. 

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In Ireland where horse racing is a major industry, the scandal has been met with a huge public outcry.  Due to the recession, many people have had to part with their horses as they are too expensive to keep. The Irish Independent reports that the number of horses slaughtered in 2008 was just over 2,000 at Department of Agriculture-approved abbatoirs, but by 2011 some 12,386 horses were slaughtered from the equine industry.

In order to be approved for slaughter in a Department of Agriculture- approved plant, the horses must have identification documents, “passports”, which has not been stamped as ‘excluded from the human food chain’. The majority of horse meat in Ireland is exported to France, Italy and Belgium where it is eaten as steak, sausage or salami.