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Look past the headlines: Horse meat is cheaper, healthier

A shop assistant arranges horsemeat ham, wurst and sausage at the Schlemmer Hansel stand at the weekly open-air market in Hohenschoenhausen district on February 14, 2013 in Berlin, Germany.

A major scandal in Europe over horsemeat is having an unexpected consequence in Britain: A surge in sales of horseburgers.

The scandal is over the mis-labelling of ready-to-eat meals that were said to contain beef but were discovered to be mostly horsemeat. Tens of thousands of products have been removed from supermarket shelves, multi-million dollar lawsuits are looming and criminal prosecutions pending.

But one corner of the British food industry is benefiting from the crisis: Speciality meat suppliers are reporting a roaring trade in horse.

Julia Toomey of Kezie Foods in Scotland says she is selling more horseburgers than ever:

“Because of this scandal that’s broken out, people are quite curious to taste it. So sales have increased at least 100 percent in the last few weeks. People are wanting to try it.”

As in the U.S., there is still a powerful taboo in Britain about eating horse. But the scandal has cast an accidental light on the potential benefits: Horsemeat is said to be healthier than beef, with half the fat and more protein -- and it’s up to five-times cheaper.

About the author

Stephen Beard is the European bureau chief and provides daily coverage of Europe’s business and economic developments for the entire Marketplace portfolio.

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