Organic Consumers Association

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The Unsavory Truth of Food Fraud: Horsemeat Burgers

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Food Safety Research Center page.

 When you buy processed meat, whether from your local grocer or a restaurant, what are you really getting?

 That's a very valid question these days, as one meat-related scandal after another has been revealed. Most recently, at least 16 people in the US have been sickened from salmonella-tainted ground beef, and in the UK, many got sick to their stomach when it was discovered beef burgers contained horsemeat.

 New DNA sequencing technology now allows regulatory agencies to inexpensively make this determination.

 From the standpoints of health, animal welfare, and environmental sustainability, there's really only one type of meat I recommend: organically raised, grass-fed or pastured. This applies to all types of meat, from fowl to beef, and related animal products such as eggs and dairy.

Tesco Apologizes for Selling Burgers Containing Horsemeat

 On January 17, BBC News1 reported that the supermarket chain Tesco had placed full-page ads in several national newspapers, apologizing for selling hamburgers found to contain nearly 30 percent horse meat. A majority of tested beef burgers also contained pig meat, as did over 30 other processed beef products, including cottage pie, beef curry pie, and lasagna.

     "The supermarket giant said it and its supplier had let customers down and promised to find out 'what happened,'" BBC writes. "So here's our promise. We will find out exactly what happened and, when we do, we'll come back and tell you. And we will work harder than ever with all our suppliers to make sure this never happens again."

 While horse meat does not pose a health risk per se, many are disgusted by the thought of eating horse, much like you'd shun cat or dog meat. The discrepancy was discovered by Irish food inspectors. Horse meat was also found in burgers sold by Iceland, Lidi, Aldi and Dunnes. The stores have reportedly removed all products from the meat supplier in question. 
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