Beware of Mystery Meat!

mystery meat, beef, meat products, horse meat, food safety

In the past few weeks, an international food safety scandal has caused a lot of concern for beef lovers.

The Rise of Mystery Meat

A recent scientific study from Europe showed that many beef products (like burgers, lasagna, meatballs, etc.) that were labeled 100 percent beef actually contained horse meat (sometimes up to 60 percent or even 100 percent horse meat). These meat products were made or distributed by international brands and companies like Burger King, Findus, IKEA, Nestlé, Spanghero, and Tesco. And they were sold in European countries like Czech Republic, France, Russia, Sweden, and the U.K.

Authorities on this issue have noted that this is not a simple case of negligence; it is, in fact, a case of fraud and “deliberate contamination.” Most of these brands have had to recall some of their meat products. And there have also been a lot of questions as to where this meat came from. Many have speculated companies in Romania, Cyprus, and the Netherlands.

Is Horse Meat Safe?

Horse meat is not inherently hazardous; in fact, it’s commonly found in countries like China, Italy, and Kazakhstan. However, the horses used in this beef scandal appear not to have been raised for consumption. They were fed veterinary supplements that are dangerous for human health like phenylbutazone or “bute” that in some cases cause a serious blood disorder known as aplastic anemia. Fortunately, reports show that while “bute” has been found in some of these beef products, the levels of “bute” have been low.

This horse meat story has caused Americans to take a closer look at their beef. In the U.S., horse meat is considered taboo as many people see horses as our companions. According to a CNN poll, 42 percent of the participants would never eat horse meat and nearly 20 percent would only eat it under dire circumstances. But horse meat hasn’t always been considered taboo. In the 1940s it made up a majority of pet food. And though six years ago Congress banned horse meat slaughterhouses, they reopened them in 2012.

Want to ensure that horse meat stays out of your diet? Becoming a vegetarian is probably the most effective option. However, if you aren’t ready to give up meat completely consider the two Mindful ideas listed below.

Tips for Avoiding Mystery Meat
  1. Eat kosher. As nutritional expert Marion Nestle pointed out, one of the best ways to avoid horse is eating kosher beef, which due to Jewish dietary restrictions, prohibit horse meat. The kosher slaughterhouses, that provide the meat, take extra care to ensure that all prohibited meats are excluded from their products.
  2. Consider turkey or soy alternatives. To avoid the horse meat consider substituting beef in your recipes with turkey. Consider turkey burgers, turkey meatloaf, or turkey meatballs or other tasty soy alternatives.