Horse News

Britain Opens Criminal Probe of Horse Meat Contamination Scandal

“Everything Surrounding Horse Slaughter Smacks of Criminal Intent!”


LONDON — A growing food-contamination scandal in Britain widened into a criminal investigation Friday, with consumers worried about finding horse meat in their burgers or lasagna.

What began as the discovery of traces of horse meat in uncooked burgers labeled as beef last month escalated this week with the announcement that thousands of packages of frozen beef lasagna were being pulled from supermarket shelves because they were potentially tainted as well.

Britain’s Food Standards Agency said the Findus company found at least 60% horse meat in 11 of 18 lasagna products that it tested; the meat in at least one of those was entirely horse.

There have been no reports of illness because of the contamination. The standards agency has demanded that the food industry conduct tests on all processed beef products, with the results to be submitted next week.

“The evidence we have about the two cases, of the significant amount of horse meat in burgers and lasagna, points to either gross negligence or deliberate contamination in the food chain. This is why we have already involved the police, both here and in Europe,” the agency said in a statement Friday.

In addition to Britain, horse meat has been detected in beef products sold in Ireland and Sweden.
Officials insist that the issue is not one of safety but rather of false advertising and potential fraud. However, authorities are trying to determine whether an anti-inflammatory drug used to treat horses may be present in the tainted products.

“People have been asking whether it is safe to eat any frozen meat products at the moment. There is no reason to suspect that there’s any health issue with frozen food in general, and we wouldn’t advise people to stop eating it,” the Food Standards Agency said.

Horse meat is regularly consumed in some European countries, including France and Italy. But Britons generally object to the idea of horse on the menu, and the scandal is dominating headlines, with Prime Minister David Cameron’s office describing the revelations as “very distasteful.”

“This isn’t really about food safety. It’s about effective food labeling. It’s about proper retail practice,” Cameron said Friday at an unrelated summit of European Union leaders in Brussels. “And people will be very angry to find out they have been eating horse when they thought they were eating beef.”

The origin of the contamination has yet to be determined. Findus’ supplier of frozen lasagna is based in France, but the company has not made public the source of the meat in those products. Suspicion has fallen on sellers in Poland, but Polish officials deny responsibility.

“This is looking much more widespread than just a couple of rogue traders, which is perhaps what we thought at the beginning,” Mary Creagh, a member of Parliament from the opposition Labor Party, told the BBC. “It looks like systematic, potentially criminal involvement in this adulteration, so we need to see the police being brought in.”

The scare over horse meat follows hard on the heels of another food scandal here in which a small number of beef pies and pastries, designated as “halal” food suitable for Muslims, was found to contain traces of pork. Some of the pastries were served to Muslim prisoners in British jails. A company in Northern Ireland was named as the supplier of the food.

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24 replies »

  1. I’m not a doctor nor do I play one on TV but the statement that there have been no reports of illness from the contamination is a bit premature. From what I have read the major concern with ingesting American Horse Meat is Bute which has been shown to be a carcinogenic. I understand that to mean it can cause cancer…that is not something that would develop overnight but long term exposure certainly would be dangerous maybe even short term. Do we really know the effects it has on humans once it’s ingested?

    If I’d been buying this stuff and eating it for the past few months or so I’d be filing suit so fast it’d make their heads spin. First of all you’re paying the price for beef and getting the cheaper horse. Secondly it involves reckless endangerment to my health.

    I sure hope the USDA is doing their job here at home!


    • Exactly, Steve. A medication like bute, is a carcinogen. Cancer can take many years to develop vs. other food contaminants that will make people ill soon after ingesting. Bute may eventually disappear from the horse’s system but its metabolite, oxyphenylbutazone, remains. It is the build-up of the metabolites that causes cancer. How do you trace that back to horse meat that was eaten for years prior to developing cancer? The meat is long gone so what do you test?

      If the USDA was doing its job, they would have already made a statement that inspections for horses will not be issued. Obviously, they don’t see that the callous disregard with food safety in horses has placed our entire meat industry under a microscope. If they don’t care about food safety with horses, how safe is our own food supply?

      This scandal is the tip of the iceberg. The world is watching now and if Congress was wise, they would step up and end the slaughter and transport to slaughter of US horses. Russia has already banned all US meat, China is looking at implementing EU regulations so not only is our own country asking questions but now it is impacting exports. The slaughter supporters laughed at us for years. I guess it’s not so funny now….


  2. Maybe it’s time to have our own organization — an arm of Animal Angels or the EWA or the WHFF — that buys and inspects all kinds of beef products sold in grocery stores and restaurants and prisons and schools and nursing homes throughout all 50 States!

    Crazy question: Is the DNA from wild horses distinct from that of domesticated horses and if so, is it traceable? (I realize some wild horses are adopted and tamed, but just thought I’d ask.)


  3. As a retired OB nurse, I have been striving to educate the public about the effects of Bute on the fetus or newborn. It is prohibited to administer Bute to an animal suspected to be pregnant or nursing.

    Phenylbutazone (Bute) is a Teratogenic Agent:

    There is evidence to indicate that exposure to Phenylbutazone during pregnancy may have a teratogenic effect on the fetus. A teratogen is a substance that can cause birth defects. The likelihood and severity of defects may be affected by the level of exposure and the stage of pregnancy that the exposure occurred at.
    Studies on birth defects with these medicines have not been done in humans. However, there is a chance that these medicines may cause unwanted effects on the heart or blood flow of the fetus or newborn baby if they are taken regularly during the last few months of pregnancy. Also, studies in animals have shown that these medicines, if taken late in pregnancy, may increase the length of pregnancy, prolong labor, or cause other problems during delivery, including still-births.
    Transferrance during lactation (breast feeding) may cause heart disease in the newborn.

    We know that all who participate in equine slaughter are cruel, unscrupulous, and usually liars. Why would we expect a moral business ethic when dealing with such people.
    If horse slaughter re-opens in USA, you can bet that WE will have contaminated beef. And it may be the innocent newborns that will suffer. Lordy! Don’t we have enough childhood diseases! and risks for birth-defects, autism, etc.


  4. These articles published over the past few weeks – don’t you ‘spose if the Brits and the Irish were so pro-horse slaughter, as all American horse slaughter proponents have been spewing ad nauseum, these incidents wouldn’t be either shocking OR newsworthy??

    I guess the point I’m hoping to make is perhaps horse slaughter for human consumption ISN’T as appealing a notion across The Pond as certain legislators and their henchmen here have let on. Which kinda reinforces my belief that all that posturing to have horses slaughtered here is cuz those people, generally, hate horses.

    And the folks in Britain and Ireland seem genuinely horrified that horse meat has ‘accidentally’ made into foods they regularly consume and trust. It also sounds like the EU’s tightening up on restrictions on banned substances has left butchers with an overabundance of horse meat – and nowhere to put it.

    It’s a frightening prospect – here or abroad – that corporations can and will do whatever they feel is necessary regardless of the Public health, safety and the right to know what it is we are eating.


  5. Perhaps an article entitled “WHO AM I EATING TODAY?”

    Great to see this in print and shared around the world in numerous articles. Some people won’t care but MANY will.


  6. I’m considering trying to different veggie burgers that I can get at Costco. Any recommendations from either a vegetarian or vegan as to which is the best tasting?

    I like making manwiches. I can make that with turkey which I don’t mind. But this whole meat industry thing really bothers me. I can’t trust not only where my food is coming from but how it was treated towards the end of life.

    I know that no matter how an animal is slaughtered there are those that believe it to be cruel. I don’t feel a need to get into a discussion about that. But i definitely want to know that the animals have been treated with kindness and respect. Not kicked in the head or hotshotted.

    Having just moved my assistant came over and taught me how to prune my new garden. Hay I’ve never had one before. So what the heck would I know?! Guess what I found out?! I have REAL Rosemary and Sage growing in my garden! And no Monsanto in sight!

    I have a recipe for chicken sausage. You use chicken breast so its all white meat. Uses alot of sage so I no longer have to buy it! Just have to figure out how to dry it…

    So any suggestions for veggie chicken burgers?

    Honest to God (pardon me if some feel that’s swearing)I think USDA OWES it to every American to test for horse in EVERYTHING. I don’t care what distributors have to say. If they’d care to tell me how to do a home test so I’d know that’s fine. Make it affordable so everyone can do this if our Government is too damn cheap to do it. I am so steamed there are simply no words to express my anger over this. And yet I find myself being overjoyed in a weird way because this brings to the front that which we’ve been saying and fighting for all along. I just hope that no one ends up sick.

    How can I know my chicken and turkey is safe if USDA isn’t doing the job they were paid to do in the first place? And trust me–if this can happen elsewhere on this planet we are NOT immune. I hope some of this scares the heck outta some of the people that are higher up the food chain.


    • Its very easy to dry sage. Simply cut the stems 4 to 8 inches long, put them in a bundle, tie them on the cut end, and hang in your home to dry.


  7. this statement a good indicator that this person doesn’t exactly care that this meat is toxic and more it’s dollars and cents…“This isn’t really about food safety. It’s about effective food labeling. It’s about proper retail practice,” Cameron said Friday


    • Precisely my thoughts, hopiman.

      If they can’t label species correctly, how can they claim any safety. Safety is more exacting and scientifically required with regard to testing, drug protocols, etc.

      This is BIG, really big in our cause to stop Human Consumption Horse Slaughter (HCHS).

      Wanna bet slaughtered US equines are somewhere in this mix…..wanna bet they can NEVER track the source of the equine meat/by products by animal…wanna bet frozen CAN/MEX horsemeat is in there some where……wanna bet the HCHS slime industry is in seriously decline and they were dumping frozen horsemeat into processed product?


      • And the rest of the quote:

        “And people will be very angry to find out they have been eating horse when they thought they were eating beef.”

        Like THAT was an afterthought…

        Food for humans shouldn’t be the results of some kind of ‘gamesmanship’, the ability of providers or manufacturers to hide or mislabel, which is exactly what government agriculture agencies have laid the groundwork for. By not holding these huge corporations responsible for the contents of their products, they are encouraging them to commit misconduct. Forget that hiding horsemeat then foisting it off on an unsuspecting public is unethical; imagine, instead, the punitive measures that WON’T be taken, years after this ‘investigation’ is complete.

        Agri-industries get the wink-n-nod from the government agencies that incidents such as this, or not labeling GMO foods, is perfectly ok as long as you hide it well and don’t get caught.

        Hmm. I wonder what those guys eat…


  8. Margaret – any Morningstar Farms burger product available at any supermarket is superior in every way to a ground up animal (including taste). Try Black Bean burgers, too. These are all vegetarian as they have an egg binder. Costco has these in large quanities. For a vegan (no animal) product, try a Gardein beefless burger. There are also “crumbles” from various manufacturers that are so similar to ground beef that your family will not know the difference in recipes – unless you tell them.

    I hope these purveyors of horse meat receive some of the hell they have put these horses through.


  9. Good. Maybe if they really and truly are investigating it this will be stopped and maybe something will be done about horse slaughter.


  10. The comments on the British article really didnt get into horse slaughter as inhumane etc. And they didnt seem to take the possible bute contained in the meat too seriously. Just get the feeling that if it can happen there it can happen here. I dont get a warm comfy feeling about the job the USDA is doing at this point. Not only meat.
    But honestly, if this whole “shocking development” gets something done about the slaughter of our horses, maybe its worth it.


  11. Thanks everyone for your kind suggestions. Since I already have turkey I’ll use that but will consider using come kind of veggie burger from here on out. This has me steamed above the top of my head. In other words I have no words to express my anger.


  12. Processed “meat” from filthy slaughterhouses – of any species – can also have fecal matter, pus, maggots, urea, blood, and mud mixed into it. Really just Pink Slime. Along with that it has large amounts of fat and salt – a heart attack just waiting to happen. Yum.


    • I guess rat/mice droppings (feces) falls under “fecal matter”…..and yes America, there is a maximum allowed. Of course, that supposes the government and regulators are testing for rat/mice feces. There is also “hair” allowed to a maximum (parts per million….ppm).



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