Horse meat found in IKEA meatballs


Kim Hjelmgaard, USA TODAY, February 25, 2013

The unfolding horse-meat scandal in Europe is partly a result of a complex supply chain.


IKEA Meatballs made with horsemeat

IKEA Meatballs made with horsemeat

LONDON — It’s been about a month since a factory in Ireland let the pony out of the stable and admitted to finding traces of equine DNA in beef patties it made for export to the United Kingdom.

Since then, dinner tables across Europe have been finding out almost daily that at some point they probably were graced with an uninvited guest.

The latest discovery was made by the Swedish furniture giant IKEA. Inspectors in the Czech Republic said Monday they found traces of horse meat in frozen meatballs made in Sweden for the furniture maker.

IKEA spokeswoman Ylva Magnusson said meatballs from the same batch had gone out to Slovakia, Hungary, France, Britain, Portugal, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Italy, Greece, Cyprus and Ireland. Magnusson said meatballs from that batch were taken off the shelves in IKEA stores in all those countries.

Other shipments of meatballs were not affected, including to the USA, even though they all come from the same Swedish supplier, Magnusson said.

“Our global recommendation is to not recall or stop selling meatballs,” she said.

Authorities are finding out that tracing the origins of the horse-meat scandal is a bit like playing Whac-A-Mole.

Over the weekend, horse meat was found on pizza in Denmark. Last week, Swiss food giant Nestle and frozen foodmaker Birds Eye were forced to withdraw products from supermarkets in Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom.

Agriculture ministers from the European Union are meeting in Brussels on Monday to address the growing crisis. Some, like Germany’s Ilse Aigner, see a solution in more stringent rules for ingredients labeling.

The Irish want more to be done about what they contend is often deliberate fraud. Owen Paterson, the U.K.’s environment minister, has said that he wants to see “concrete, coordinated action right across Europe.”

One of the first news to break on the scandal involved Findus, a European firm that was found to be producing a beef lasagna “ready meal” or frozen dinner that testing revealed in some instances contained 60% to 100% horse meat.

An investigation in the U.K. by the BBC’s Panorama television program revealed that Findus’ meat-processing supply chain is complex to say the least.

Findus’ beef lasagna had what the BBC investigators called an “extraordinary journey before” making its way to the U.K.’s supermarket shelves.

“The beef had in fact started life in Romania. Only at that point it wasn’t a cow,” said the BBC’s Richard Bilton, who lead the fact-finding mission.

It appears that the horse meat was re-labeled a beef when it left Transylvania The Romanian company CarmOlimp, which produced the meat, said it is confident that it exported 100% horse and its products were labeled as such. It denied involvement in any label switching.

European investigators alleged that Findus’ Romanian horse became a cow when it reached the town of Breda, in the Netherlands. The Dutch are still investigating this. The horse/cow then showed up in France at the meat production operation Spanghero, near the border with Spain.

At Spanghero, Findus’ horse/cow checked in as Romanian horse meat but it checked out as European Union beef. Barthélémy Aguerre, Spanghero’s chief executive, said: “I don’t apologize because I don’t feel responsible. I think the responsibility lies elsewhere.”

In Luxembourg? That’s where the meat went next and finally became a burger at a Findus factory before being shipped back to the U.K. and across Europe.

In the age of the multiple-use factory, as well as meat sourcing from a multitude of suppliers, the European experience may not be unique.

“We (the U.S.) get meat from lots of countries,” said Marion Nestle, a food studies professor at New York University, in e-mailed comments. “One U.S. Department of Agriculture study said that a single pound of hamburger meat might come from 400 different cows.

“If there was a lot of horse meat around, it could easily get mixed in and nobody would notice if nobody checked,” she said.

Nestle said that while Congress permits horses to be slaughtered in the USA it won’t allow inspectors to be paid out of tax revenues, effectively banning slaughter. Instead, the horses are sent to Canada and Mexico to be killed, she wrote in a blog post on her website, totalling as many as 140,000 since 2006.

Malcolm Walker, chief executive of Iceland, a British supermarket caught up in Europe’s escalating horse meat scandal, told the BBC it did not routinely test the genus of its meat.

“Did we test for horse? No, but we didn’t test for cat or dog either,” he said. “There might be dog and cat.”

Or even fish. Last week an environmental group Oceana said its own investigating revealed that seafood routinely sold in restaurants and supermarkets across America may not be what it is labeled. The most common mislabeling included red snapper and white tuna. One-third of it may routinely be sold under false pretenses.



AUTHOR: Jerry Finch
  • NorthStar326326

    SWEDEN killed the great racehorse EXCELLER in a Swedish slaughterhouse, so WHY would any of this surprise anyone. Our own country (USA) is trying to reinstate horse slaughter THANKS TO OBAMA CLEARING THE WAY. As a fellow horse lover and rescuer, WE NEED TO GET SERIOUS ABOUT HOLDING THIS DESTRUCTIVE PRES TO ACCOUNT FOR HIS ACTIONS, or we will be like GREECE economically and horse-slaughtering/eating counties CULTURALLY. Immigation policies accelerate such policies. Mexican culture is worst for slaughtering horses on N. American Continent.

    February 25, 2013
    • President Obama did NOT “clear the way” for a return of horse slaughter to the US! In a backroom deal after the House and Senate had already agreed to the Budget with the defunding language INTACT, THREE legislators met and quietly removed that language. Many who voted to pass the budget probably didn’t even know about this last moment skulduggery – possibly the President himself since he wasn’t there and signed electronically. In any event, the budget HAD to be passed or the government would have had to shut down – which is what these three slime balls counted on. Let’s STOP blaming President Obama for something he did NOT do, all right? If we don’t stick to the FACTS ourselves, why should anyone listen to us?

      February 27, 2013
  • Jo

    “Didn’t test for cat or dog either”.
    Oh, please!
    After all, aren’t they just dirty livestock/deadstock too??

    Seriously, the whole entire horse industry from coast to coast just gets more $$ sick $$ by the day. Vomit!!

    February 25, 2013
  • Valerie Wehmueller

    Are there any petitions out there yet to sign concerning this growing international scandal/disgrace? I agree with you, NorthStar326326. If this has been going on all over Europe, Americans shouldn’t trust all their meat suppliers either! I don’t eat any meat, but, for those who do, you might want to really check out where & what you’re buying to feed you & your families! I’ve read, Europe gets at least 20% of it’s “horse-meat” from American horses, so what’s to keep greedy suppliers here from mixing it in with other meats? If we allow horse slaughter to re-start here in America, you can be sure, the same thing will happen here, if not already. Horses are NOT FOOD!!!!!

    February 25, 2013
  • Cheri

    I hope everyone in Europe enjoys eating meat with Bute, ivermetin, horse wormer and steroids!

    February 25, 2013
  • Jo

    Obama and Harper think Slaughtering U.S. and
    Canadian Bred horses is acceptable? They really have to go. After all, these 2 leaders of our great countries are sure going to allow
    their kids to eat race horse made burgers, meatballs, pizza and lasanga too, right! No horse ever belongs at slaughter.
    Remember that line whoever said it first
    “Politicians should be limited to two terms, one in office and another in jail”.

    February 26, 2013
    • Where did you read that President Obama said slaughtering US horses was acceptable? Have a link to that? Or are you referring to a budget that EVERYONE signed because they had to in order to prevent a government shutdown?

      FACTS please!

      February 27, 2013
  • sherriey

    the more i read….the sicker i get!
    this gets deeper by the minute!
    i still say that ‘we’ have been eating beefhorse every now and then and not even know it….USDA my foot!

    please….we are not stupid!


    February 26, 2013
  • I only buy meat from a local butcher and I buy beef and pork from him and venison shot by my husband too. I don’t know about this horse meat scandal but what I do know is I am never going to eat horse meat. It is contaminated, through bute, ivermectin and steroids and not fit for human consumption. It disgusts me to think we eat our good buddies 🙁

    February 26, 2013
  • You know, even if the USDA wanted to do something, they don’t have the funds. Their budget has been slashed to the point that they can’t even do routine checks on OUR food, let alone anything new or special.

    What a mess!

    February 27, 2013