Horse Meat Scandal
The 2013 horse meat scandal was a scandal in Europe that foods advertised as containing beef had been found to contain improperly declared or undeclared horse meat. The issue was brought to the fore on January 15th 2013 when it was reported horse DNA had been discovered in some of the frozen hamburgers sold in several British and Irish supermarkets.
While horse meat does not pose any health danger and it is consumed in many counties, it is considered a major taboo in most countries and this includes Ireland and the United Kingdom. The analysis stated twenty three out of twenty seven samples of beef burgers also apparently contained pork DNA yet it is a taboo to Jewish and Muslim communities.
While the scandal was not a direct food safety concern, it revealed a breakdown in traceability of food supply chain and proved that harmful ingredients could be included as well. For instance, sports horses’ might have found their way into the food supply chain and yet the drug phenylbutazone which is used by veterinaries is banned in food animals.
Since then, the scandal spread to thirteen other European countries and this forced the European authorities to decide on finding an EU solution to the predicament. As a result of this, the EU initiated meat testing of about four thousand horse meat sample to see whether any was contaminated with the veterinary drug.
Further seizures were made in December 2013. Investigations that were carried out by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) is what resulted to Ireland been the first state in the EU t report horse meat presence in beef and it was also the first to make the results public. On December 10th 2012, the first equine DNA test that was positive was reported. Additionally, tests were done on 18th and 21st December.
The samples were sent by FSAI to Eurofins lab in Germany. Professor Alan Reilly who worked with FSAI testified that the presence of equine DNA had been noted but not the amount to the Oireachtas on 5th February 2013. The Eurofins Laboratory and IdentiGen Laboratory were also asked to determine the level/amount of horsemeat in the samples provided.
Of the twenty seven burger products that were tested, thirty seven percent tested positive for horse DNA while another eighty five percent tested positive for pig DNA. Also, of thirty one been products tested, twenty one tested positive for pig DNA but they were negative for horse DNA. Nineteen salami products also got tested but they were negative for foreign DNA.
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