The Great Horsemeat Scandal Explained

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With recent news that IKEA have withdrawn their infamous meatballs from menus across Europe due to horsemeat contamination, it doesn’t seem like this scandal is going to disappear anytime soon. In fact, it’s estimated that as many as 14.5 million ready meals across 13 European countries may have contained horsemeat whilst labelled as beef or other ingredients.

If you’re starting to get confused with the ins and outs of the scandal – who’s involved, what countries did the horsemeat come from, and why it may be dangerous – you’re not alone. That’s why we’ve collated everything that you need to know into this handy infographic…

For example, did you know that in Japan there is an ice cream made of horsemeat? Yes, really. Read on and discover more…

Horsemeat [Infographic]

About Mike Stewart

Mike Stewart is a writer for Australian Food Safety News. Based in Brisbane, Mike has an extensive background in food safety and is currently a researcher at the Australian Institute of Food Safety.

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  • Charles Liu

    Mike, your illustration of concumption and production is misleading for the following reason:
    1) The numbers don’t add up between “who’s eating it” and “who supplies it”, as the supply figure far out numbers consumption
    2) Most of the horse meat China produces is not for export, but domestic consumption. Top exporter of horse meat are Argentina, Mexico, Canada.

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  • S Ostrowski

    Overall I found this very informative, well-researched, and the poster is certainly timely and accessible to a variety of audiences. I teach public health and food safety at a Veterinary College in the U.S., and will use this information to inform my students.

    I agree with Charles Liu that countries whose populations are major consumers of horsemeat tend to be net importers. If most slaughter for consumption occurs locally, it is easy to understand that accurate production and consumption figures are difficult to come by, compared to commercial export/import statistics.

  • Jorgen Gullestrup

    Interesting, is seems to be a labeling scandal more than anything else, deceptive conduct, not a health scare. I presume there is a fair chance that lots of Australian processed meat products contain horse meat and that it would not be a scandal here. In Australia it is enough to declare that there is “meat” in a product, now the type of meat although some declare – “meat including pork”. My partner do not eat beef which makes it impossible for us to purchase processed meat as we never know if there is beef in a product or not.

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  • T

    The reality is that majority of horses that came out of Europe where never breed to be burgers but instead race horses and the likes but for what ever reason ended up at the factory for meat. That’s all well and good and if you want to eat horse meat then that’s no problem but the fact is that a lot of those slow race horses would have been given some form of medicine throughout their career which made the majority not fit for human consumption and the quality control measures where extremely low or none existent in comparison to the production of beef. All that aside if you buy a beef burger you should get a beef burger not a beef/horse/donkey/goat burger as tasty as that sounds.