Horse Meat Crisis Strikes IKEA’s Swedish Meatballs, Affecting Sales in 14 Countries

February 25, 2013  |  

Stephanie Pilick/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

In the nearly three weeks since we first heard about traces of horse found in Burger King beef, there have been a number of stories about horse meat making its way into products across Europe. The latest is IKEA, which discovered horse meat in meatballs it was selling in Sweden. As a precaution, the company is removing meatballs from the shelves in 14 other countries, including France, Britain, Spain, and Italy.

“We do not tolerate any other ingredients than the ones stipulated in our recipes or specifications, secured through set standards, certifications and product analysis by accredited laboratories,” the company said in a statement.

An Icelandic horse. AP Photo/Gregory Payan

After the outbreak of mad cow disease across Europe in the 1990s, the continent cracked down on beef supplies. This latest horse meat crisis started about a month ago in England and has spread from country to country. The New York Times says the food giant Nestle had to remove items from shelves in Spain and Italy, and tons of burgers have been taken from the shelves in Britain. Other huge international food companies have also been impacted, shrink wrapped and ready for stew.

Authorities maintain that there is no health risk, but the scandal has got people worried about what exactly they’re eating.

The crisis hasn’t struck the US (we have our own food issues, thank you very much), but it should be noted, nonetheless, that there’s technically nothing wrong with eating horse. It’s just frowned upon. In Iceland for example, I went to a market where every part of the native Icelandic horse is sold as food.

But in case you’re concerned (the US doesn’t import from the companies that have been embroiled in the scandal), Businessweek gives you some info about how to tell if you’re eating horse.

“There’s a consensus that horse meat meat is softer, sweeter, leaner and even milder than beef,” the outlet says.


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