The British government has ordered the country’s food industry to test all processed beef products. The move comes after one of the UK’s biggest food manufacturers found horsemeat in some of its ready-to- eat meals and withdrew 180,000 of them from sale.
The Findus frozen food company discovered that some of its beef lasagnas were in fact 100 percent horsemeat. The meals were manufactured by a supplier in France where there is no cultural taboo against eating horses and horse meat is widely consumed as a cheaper alternative to beef.
This is not the first time horse meat has hit the headlines in Britain. Last month frozen beefburgers were also removed from many British supermarket shelves after equine DNA was detected.
Alistair Driver, political editor of Farmers Guardian magazine, says the scandal has lifted the lid on the whole business of cheap food, where costs and corners have been cut:
“It seems to be the trading of ingredients across the continent from one trader to another, from a manufacturer to a trader…that’s all about just cutting costs and trading these cheap products,” says Driver.
Ironically horsemeat is considered healthier than beef as it’s leaner. But some safety concerns are emerging. Samples of the lasagna are being tested for bute, a painkiller given to horses which is harmful to humans. There’s no evidence that the U.S. food chain has been affected.