Horse-meatballs and chips please…


A front-runner for this year’s story of the year is already the ongoing horse meat scandal.

In the past week, we have already seen Swedish retail giants Ikea withdraw the much-loved meatballs from all of its UK and European stores. Meanwhile restaurateurs Whitbread and frozen food firm Birds Eye have also fallen foul (or should that be foal?) of the furore that followed horse DNA being discovered in Tesco burgers in January.

Outside Europe it emerged that Black Beauty and Red Rum may be slightly safer in South Africa after no traces of horse were found in burgers and sausages. But it wasn’t such good news for Eeyore and Three Billy Goat’s Gruff after they discovered traces of donkey, goat and water buffalo meat instead.

While the companies caught with the products on their shelves have been quick to point the finger at the slaughterhouses in Eastern Europe, surely the blame lies with the stores themselves for selling the meat without testing it in the first place. They are the ones who have been making the most money from selling the incorrectly labelled meat, and it is their duty to ensure the quality and origin of the products they are putting on people’s plates.

Aside from that, another interesting and important point is that experts have predicted the practice of mislabeling of meat may have been going on for years. The likelihood is that the majority of us have probably eaten horse meat at one time already, albeit unknowingly. So it does raise the question, has it actually done us any harm? And should it stop us eating the things we used to?

I for one, will probably be dragged to Ikea on a quest for tea towels and bookcases in the near future. The reward for being laden with pillows, flat-pack boxes and having my bank account emptied, always used to be a trip to the Ikea restaurant for those gravy-covered meatballs with chips and loganberry sauce. And in all honesty, I can’t see that habit changing. I liked them before I knew they contained horse so I’d probably canter back to eat them again.

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