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Posted by on Feb 1, 2013 in Business, Environment, Featured | 8 comments

Is Burger King Horsing Around in Europe?

Is Burger King horsing around in Europe? The fast-food chain is insisting its meat is fine, even though meat from an Irish plant that supplies the fast-food giant in Europe with meat has shown traces of horse DNA:

Burger King has found traces of horse DNA at a plant that supplied its U.K. beef patties, the restaurant chain has said.

In a Thursday statement, Burger King said “four samples recently taken from the Silvercrest plant (in Ireland) have shown the presence of very small trace levels of equine DNA.”

The statement added, “Within the last 36 hours, we have established that Silvercrest used a small percentage of beef imported from a non-approved supplier in Poland. They promised to deliver 100% British & Irish beef patties and have not done so. This is a clear violation of our specifications, and we have terminated our relationship with them. ”

Burger King said that the meat did not did make its way to the firm’s restaurants.

“While the Food Safety Authority of Ireland has stated that this is not a food safety issue, we are deeply troubled by the findings,” said Diego Beamonte, Burger King’s vice president of global quality..

This is the latest in a horse meat scandal galloping across Europe that has touched on the giant grocery giant Tesco — and Poland. The Daily Record:

Poor old Poland. Their people come over here, working in our shops and restaurants and contributing to the economy and, in return, we blame them for the biggest food scandal in years.

This week, MPs were told Poland is the likely source of the horsemeat that ended up in burgers sold in Tesco, Aldi, Iceland, Lidl and Dunnes stores.

It also emerged they might have been on sale to the public for up to a year.

If you think this is leading to another in the long line of jokes this has provoked, you’d be wrong. This is no laughing matter. In fact, it’s deadly serious.

The director of the Food Standards Agency says she has no evidence the food was unsafe for human consumption.

Judging by the FSA’s performance so far in this sorry saga, that’s like saying Inspector Clouseau hasn’t solved the crime.

Meat for human consumption is traceable and the animals’ diet and the medicines they receive are restricted. Since the horsemeat wasn’t intended for the food chain, we have no idea what it contained or if indeed it was safe.

Horses slaughtered in the UK have been found to contain traces of a drug that causes cancer in humans.

We can only hope that wasn’t the case in Poland but, amid all this deceit, who do you believe?

Also, why did it take the Irish food regulators to uncover this scandal? The UK Food Standards Agency said: “We haven’t previously identified horsemeat in burgers as a likely significant risk in this country.”

Unfortunately for them, see no evil, hear no evil has never been an acceptable excuse. We don’t need DNA tests to understand the job of the Food Standards Agency is what it says on the tin.

If the label states beef burgers, the basic standard is for it to be beef and not 29 per cent horsemeat as in the Tesco case.

Some have tried to turn this into a discussion about why eating horse is not a tradition here but that misses the point.

This not about taste, it’s about misleading the public.

And now the question is: how to reign it in? Tesco is not happy with the Irish firm and is bucking its business relationship with it:

The supermarket today severed links with Silvercrest and said it had broken an agreement that only meat from the UK or Ireland should be used in its frozen beefburgers.

An investigation by the Ministry of Agriculture in Ireland has found that the source of the horse meat was a supplier in Poland.

Tesco said the Polish meat company was not on a list of “approved suppliers” agreed with Silvercrest. The supermarket has pledged to introduce a “comprehensive system of DNA testing” across its meat products.

Tim Smith, Tesco’s group technical director, said: “We now understand – with as much certainty as possible – what happened. The evidence tells us that our frozen burger supplier, Silvercrest, used meat in our products that did not come from the list of approved suppliers we gave them.

“Nor was the meat from the UK or Ireland, despite our instruction that only beef from the UK and Ireland should be used in our frozen beef burgers.

“Consequently we have decided not to take products from that supplier in future. We took that decision with regret but the breach of trust is simply too great.

“To underpin the strong measures already in place, we will now introduce a comprehensive system of DNA testing across our meat products. This will identify any deviation from our high standards.

“These checks will set a new standard. It will be a significant investment for Tesco, borne by Tesco. We want to leave customers in no doubt that we will do whatever it takes to ensure the quality of their food and that the food they buy is exactly what the label says it is.”

Test results on beefburgers at the Silvercrest plant showed “significant levels” of equine DNA in imported “raw material,” amounting to 20 per cent horse DNA content relative to beef.

“This confirms previous results that the raw material from Poland is the source of equine DNA content in certain beef burgers,” the Irish agriculture department said in a statement at the weekend.

Could this happen here? Forbes says yes — at a time when some U.S. plants are trying to make it acceptable for people to eat horse meat in a food scandal that could touch on several areas:

While everyone is making jokes about the Polish horse meat that contaminated Tesco’s ground beef patties in the UK, lawmakers in Oklahoma and other western states are busy introducing bills to open horse slaughter plants for human consumption here in the U.S.

Below are five reasons why the Tesco scandal could play out in rural America in the very near future if they succeed—and why food safety issues with contaminated horse meat are a far bigger threat to consumers than the industry is admitting.

Here are the five reasons Forbes’ piece gives (go to the link to read this in more detail):

Reason #1: A single beef burger is made up of many different cows…

Reason #2: Oklahoma wants to cash in on slaughtering racehorses, mustangs and other equines not raised as meat animals….

Reason #3: Burger King’s ‘cover-up’ of horse meat scandal turns up cancer-causing drug in UK abattoirs….

Reason #4: Poor labeling prevents consumers from knowing what’s in their food and the industry works to keep it that way…

Reason #5: Wikipedia misleads consumers on contamination issues…

But i bet if you asked people eating hamburgers in a restaurant if they felt their burgers had horse meat in it, they’d say “neigh.”

horse graphic via

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