The horse meat scandal is still in the news, with more companies and products being found to be victims of criminal activity. The CEO of French a processing company found to be adding horse meat to ready meals has issued an apology to the UK, as have Findus, who were found to be putting horse meat into their beef lasagne. The Findus horse meat was coming from Comigel, a privately owned French food processing company, who are in turn supplied by Spanghero, another French company.
Today, Barthelemy Aguerre the head of Spanghero in France, said that he was not aware of the horse meat, but apologised to the UK for producing contaminated food in his factories. The French government have halted all contracts with Spanghero, the company may collapse as a result of this.
What Meat Is Safe?
So, what meat is safe? Minced beef is a common ingredient in “beef” ready meals. The minced beef can often be from various parts of the cow, not just the beef (the muscle tissue). Internal organs and fat is often mixed in. However, minced meat bought from a butchers or supermarket in the UK should be freshly minced in the UK, and there is no way that anything other than beef can be added. Also, almost all minced beef in the UK, especially in supermarkets, is labelled minced beef steak, which means it must be only from steak, and not from other parts of the cow.
However, today we spotted in a local supermarket a large pile of discounted minced beef steak. In addition to this, steaks were also reduced. It could of course be coincidence, but as a regular visitor to the local supermarket, it is certainly not often that so much meat is reduced. People appear to have been put off by minced meat.
As with previous food scandals and problems, such as BSE / Mad Cow Disease, salmonella and Foot and Mouth disease, people are quickly put off buying these products. This is usually a short-term problem though. Once this crisis has been resolved by the government the Foods Standards Authority and retailers trust will be restored and people will start buying minced beef again – and hopefully British minced beef!
For the time being, if you are not fussy about what you eat, the horse meat is thought to be safe. While there may be traces of drugs in the meat (mainly the equine painkiller phenylbutazone) it is thought that you would need to eat hundreds of portions every day to receive a dangerous dose of the drugs.
No Horse Meat In Co-Op Products
Update: Feb 25, 2013
Today the Co-operative announced that after testing 101 of their products they are pleased to announce that no horse meat has been found in Cop-op brand minced beef products.
The Food Standards Agency requested that the Co-op tested all of their minced beef products after the Co-op discovered 2 lines of frozen beef burgers which did contain horse meat. In total the Co-op tested 17 burgers and found 4 to contain horse DNA. These products were removed from the shelves immediately.
Solid Food Supply Chain
The Co-op has always taken its food supply chain very seriously and as a result they can trace the food from most, if not all, of their branded products.
The Co-op have announced that this good news will not lead them to lower their guard – they will in fact take further measures to ensure the safety and reliability of their food. The Co-op plans to carry on with its own independent testing on a permanent basis to ensure that horse meat, or other types of meat, do not re-enter their food supply chain.
The are also reviewing the current suppliers and looking to improve, maybe shorted, the supply chains and also to provide greater transparency on its own testing processes. The Co-op has already dropped the ABP subsidiary Silvercrest Foods after horse meat was found in some of the burgers that they produced.
The Co-op is a relatively small supermarket and its ethical policies allow it to take action quickly to reverse problems in its supply chain. Hopefully the Co-op will see a rise in sales of minced beef products soon.