"Great Food Comes First" is one of the proud slogans Burger King displays on its website. However, a portion of its 11 million daily customers are finding out that they have been consuming horse meat Whopper Jr's. On Jan. 31, Burger King admitted that its European suppliers provided burger patties with small traces of horse meat to British customers.
Do you want fries with that stallion beef?
According to a Friday report by USA Today, the giant fast food chain found horse DNA at a plant in Ireland. That facility supplies beef patties to restaurants in England.
Burger King's admission is a 180-degree turnaround from the company's initial denial earlier this month when reports first surfaced that meat suppliers had mixed cattle beef with equine (horse) meat. Horse meat was found in burger patties sold at British supermarket chain Tesco. Tests by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland found that Tesco's "Beefburgers" contained 29 percent horse meat despite being advertised to consumers as regular cattle meat.
The company said that it is now using suppliers in Italy and Germany for its stores in Europe. However, consumer advocates remain concerned that the horse meat switcheroo could be a much larger, global problem and that restaurant chains and cattle product suppliers are not admitting a systemic problem.
On Thursday, a Burger King spokesman said "four samples recently taken from the Silvercrest plant (in Ireland) have shown the presence of very small trace levels of equine DNA. Within the last 36 hours, we have established that Silvercrest used a small percentage of beef imported from a non-approved supplier in Poland. They promised to deliver [100 percent] British [and] Irish beef patties and have not done so. This is a clear violation of our specifications, and we have terminated our relationship with them."
Thus far, there have been no reported incidents in North America although millions of customers have grown leery of the horse meat controversy. Industry experts are waiting to see if lawyers representing consumer groups will file a class action lawsuit that could cost erring companies millions of dollars.
In 2010, 3G Capital bought Burger King and transformed it into a privately-held company. Each day, the fast food chain serves a whopping 11 million customers.
"While the Food Safety Authority of Ireland has stated that this is not a food safety issue, we are deeply troubled by the findings," said Diego Beamonte, Burger King's vice president of global quality.
Here are some jokes on the horse meat fiasco:
- Scientist: "Sir, we've discovered horse meat in your burgers." Tesco boss: "Why the long face?"
- HSE confirm that all who ate horse burgers are in a stable condition.
- What do you call a promiscious pony? A little whorse.
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