That’s what’s been going on in the UK recently to the shock and outrage of English diners.
The U.K. Food Standards Agency tested lasagnas from frozen-food company Findus as part of an ongoing investigation into mislabeled meat. Findus traced the horse meat back to their French supplier. Millions of frozen burgers have been yanked from store shelves as authorities learned that the products contained horse DNA. Some of the burgers were shown to contain up to 29% horse meat.
Burger King originally denied that its products were affected but tests later found tell-tale horse DNA in its beef.
No one is claiming that the products are unsafe to eat. But among the English and Americans there is a strong taboo against eating horses. Even many committed carnivores are disgusted at the thought of eating Flicka.
Other cultures do not have the same problem with horse meat. Among many Europeans there is a long history of eating horse especially in France, Italy, Germany, Belgium and Switzerland. Horse meat is also very popular in South America, Mexico, Quebec and China. In Japan you can even find horse sashimi, known as basashi.
Hippophagy (horse eating) is believed to have become popular in Europe as a response to 19th century famines. People were, literally, hungry enough to eat a horse. But for a thousand years or more before that, Church rules banned eating horses probably because they were invaluable as assets of war.
Because Americans have long treated horses as pets and companions and view them as noble animals with soulful eyes representing the freedom of the untamed West, we’ve always balked at the idea of eating horse meat. Horses are even in the Olympics for crying out loud. Also, there is no euphemistic word for horse meat like pork, beef or McNugget to disguise what’s going on.
Health Benefits of Horse Meat
But in France, Belgium and Sweden horse meat is more popular today than mutton and lamb. Those who eat it say it tastes slightly sweeter than beef but is more tender. Here’s how horse meat compares in the nutrition department:
- Lower in total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol than sirloin steak or pork.
- No risk of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (mad cow disease).
- Twice as much iron as beef.
- More than twice as much vitamin B12.
- Almost five times more heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
The British government has pledged punishment for those who substituted horse meat for beef. Perhaps it’s a case of violating the law against making fast food healthier.
Have you ever been hungry enough to eat a horse? How was it? Please leave a comment.