Most Americans don’t eat horse-meat. But many don’t realize that the United States routinely exports the controversial beef look-alike to our neighbors in Canada and Mexico, according to a report by CNN on Feb 10. Amid the growing European scandal involving the meat, some Americans are beginning to consider whether we could be unknowingly eating mislabeled beef here in the U.S.
The horse-meat that was being mislabeled in Europe has finally been recalled, but only after it made its way to dinner tables and restaurants in several different countries. The Findus Corporation appears to be at the center of the scandal, and after the French government began looking into it, Sweden announced it was reporting the company to authorities. The company’s products contained horse-meat although they were labeled as beef. The products were sold in Sweden, the U.K, and France.
Some of the companies involved are corporations that Americans are all too familiar with: Burger King and Wal-Mart, Inc. were among those who recalled the mislabeled products being sold as 100% beef.
It appears that the horse-meat scandal hasn't crossed the pond, and as far as we know, Americans haven’t been eating this mislabeled beef that so many unsuspecting diners were subject to. Horse-meat used to be banned in the U.S, but since the U.S. ban on slaughtering horses for human consumption was, as The Huffington Post described, "quietly lifted" by Congress in 2011, and since the U.S. does export this controversial product, it seems reasonable to think that at some point we might find ourselves exposed to this meat that many consider taboo.
There are no health issues associated with eating horse-meat from horses bred for human consumption but still, many consider the thought itself revolting. Americans tend to think of horses as pets, not as food. And while it seems that the only way to be 100% sure the meat you’re eating contains 100% beef is to test it, the alternative is to go vegan. Most of us probably aren’t willing to take that step. Yet.
So my question to readers is this: If you found out you’d been unknowingly eating mislabeled horse-meat would you be upset? And if meat correctly labeled as containing horse were sold in U.S. stores, would you eat it?
[Correction: U.S. horse-meat is exported in the form of live horses, which are then slaughtered and processed at plants in Canada and Mexico. The horses technically do not become horse-meat until they actually reach the slaughterhouse. According to the Humane Society, the European Commission released the following findings from a 2011 audit: “85% of the horses slaughtered in a processing plant in Canada originated here in the United States. The US also exports horses to plants in Mexico for local and foreign consumption.”]