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Workshop 2.10

They eat horses don't they?


Monica Commandeur

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Horse meat is an international scandal from 2 perspectives:
a.British, American (and some other) people think it is unethical to eat horses at all; is cheap and all over Europe food chains are cheated. What does this say about modern meat chain systems?


Horse meat (or horse beef) is the culinary name for meat cut from a horse. It is a major meat in only a few countries, notably in Central Asia, but it forms a significant part of the culinary traditions of many others, from Europe to South America to Asia. The top eight countries consume about 4.7 million horses a year. For the majority of mankind's early existence, wild horses were hunted as a source of protein. It is slightly sweet, tender and low in fat.
However, because of the role horses have played as companions and as workers, and concerns about the ethics of the horse slaughter process, it is a taboo food in some cultures. These historical associations, as well as ritual and religion, led to the development of the aversion to the consumption of horse meat. The horse is now given pet status by many in some parts of the Western world, particularly in the United States, United Kingdom and Ireland, which further solidifies the taboo on eating its meat.
The 2013 meat adulteration scandal is ongoing in Europe; foods advertised as containing beef were found to contain undeclared horse meat, as much as 100% of the meat content in some cases, and other undeclared meats, such as pork. The issue came to light on 15 January 2013, when it was reported that horse DNA had been discovered in frozen beefburgers sold in several Irish and British supermarkets. While horse meat is not harmful to health and is eaten in many countries, it is considered a taboo food in many countries, including the UK and Ireland. The analysis stated that 23 out of 27 samples of beef burgers also contained pig DNA, which is a taboo food to the Muslim and Jewish communities.
While not a direct food safety issue, the scandal revealed a major breakdown in the traceability of the food supply chain, and therefore some risk that harmful ingredients were included as well. Sports horses for instance could have entered the food supply chain, and with them the veterinary drug ‘phenylbutazone’ which is banned in food animals. Since the scandal has spread to 13 other European countries, European authorities have decided to find an EU-wide solution. They initiated meat testing of about 4,000 horse meat samples for the veterinary drug. The EU Recommendation on Labelling the Origin of Processed Meat will be published as soon as possible. 5source: Wikipedia "Horse meat" and "2013 meat adulteration scandal"

Workshop process

Papers are invited to use a focus on horse meat to help us better understand the issues involved with meat ethics and meat chains. Let's discuss!

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