The EU Horsemeat Scandal
Since I donned my “web developer” hat 6 months ago, I’ve been largely out-of-the-loop insofar as food/nutrition/fitness issues are concerned. Nonetheless, the ongoing horse meat scandal in Europe has been impossible for me to ignore. While I don’t buy frozen, prepared entrees, and have no issues with eating horse meat per se, I still find the unfolding debacle worrying.
Here’s an overview from Spiegel Online. Read it and weep.
“With countries across the EU investigating, however, clearer details are beginning to emerge. On Thursday, the French government pinpointed the meat supply firm Spanghero as the company that processed horsemeat and then passed it along to food manufacturers as ground beef.
…The fraud appears to have manifested itself across Europe. This week, supermarkets in the United Kingdom, France and Germany have removed frozen lasagne and other prepared meals supplied by Comigel from their stores after some products were found to contain 100 percent horsemeat but had been labeled as beef. Comigel had originally ordered ground beef from Spanghero.”
The good news is that a primary culprit (Spanghero) has been identified. The bad news is a) the length of time it took to discover the fraud; b) the potential involvement of other companies; and c) the number of countries/consumers affected. According to the Guardian…
“Last week the government presented the results of its initial inquiry into Spanghero’s operations. It concluded that the company had knowingly sold 750 tons of horsemeat mislabelled as beef over a period of six months.
The horsemeat is believed to have been used in 4.5m ready made meals in 13 European countries.”
And that’s the worrisome part, to me.
It has nada to do with horse meat. It has everything to do with truth-in-labeling. Consumers have a right to know what they’re eating. If I eat a “My Friend Flicka” burger, it should be because I chose to do so, not because an unknown company farther back in the production/distribution chain decided to fraudulently market horse meat as beef.
Hopefully, those responsible will face criminal penalties… the stiffer, the better.