Not hungry for horse? Pay close attention to the menu

While the horsemeat scandal spreads to Lidl supermarket and pizzerias, menu wording becomes an issue

February 20th, 2013 11:19 am| by admin

The horsemeat scandal that has been on everyone's lips for the past several weeks is not over yet.

The supermarket chain Lidl announced earlier this week that it found traces of horsemeat in the pasta dish ‘Combino Penne Bolognese’ from Copack. Lidl has removed the dish from its stores and is offering purchasers of the product a refund. It is also assuring them that if the meal has been consumed, there are no health related risks of eating horsemeat.

The slaughterhouse HS Slagteri in Skanderborg also admitted this week to having mixed horsemeat and beef. The nation's food authorities, Fødevarestyrelsen, have taken 23 samples of meat from 14 different eateries which are thought to be supplied by HS Slagteri. A Fødevarestyrelsen official told The Copenhagen Post that the results of the tests would be available by the weekend or early next week.

Pizzerias in particular have received meat from the slaughterhouse and Fødevarestyrelsen is now trying to establish whether the pizzerias were aware that the meat was a mixture of beef and horse or if the butcher has been dishonest.

It is also relevant which wording the eateries have used on their menus. If a pizzeria's menu lists 'pizza med oksekød' (pizza with beef), the wording will lead to legal issues if the presence of horsemeat is detected.  However if the menu lists 'pizza med kødsovs' (pizza with meat sauce), the restaurants would be in the clear legally since, after all, horsemeat is indeed meat. The food authorities are advising consumers to carefully parse the wording of menus and to ask questions if in doubt.

A survey by Epinion showed that 55 percent of the Danes are fine with eating horsemeat while only 25 percent of the Danish population are completely reluctant to consuming this neighing alternative to beef. The survey also showed that men are more open towards consuming horse than women.

As the scandal continues to spread across Europe, the EU has now decided that it will improve all food controls within the borders. For every 50 tonnes of meat, at least one test has to be taken to determine from which animal the meat comes from, as well as checking for medicine which could have been given to the animals.

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