Horse meat scandal raises question of ground beef filler

Ground beef

A ground beef scandal has erupted in England and Ireland over ground beef being adulterated with horse meat. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

A scandal has emerged in England and Ireland as horse meat has been found in a number of ground beef samples, meaning it’s being used as a filler. It isn’t the first ground beef filler scandal, such as the pink slime debacle in the U.S., but it brings up the question of just what goes into ground meat.

U.K., Ireland say neigh to horse meat in ground beef

A scandal has erupted in England and Ireland over the content of burgers. According to Time magazine, an investigation revealed 10 out of 27 sampled frozen beef patties tested positive for containing horse meat and 23 of those 27 contained pig DNA.

It later was found, according to ABC, that the horse-ridden burgers extended to beef patties being sold in supermarkets on the other side of the Irish Sea. Burger King was also implicated, as are a number of large supermarket chains. About 10 million burgers have been recalled in Ireland so far and further investigations are under way.

A real stretch

In other words, it was found that the beef in what are supposed to be beef patties was being stretched, as horse meat and pig meat were being added as a filler. It isn’t the first time it’s been found that ground beef filler was being added to “extend” the content.

There was that whole “pink slime” debacle last year; in 2012, a furor erupted when it was found that ground beef, even the uncooked variety sold in supermarkets, had a binding agent, often called “lean, finely textured beef” according to ABC, which consists of leftover meat parts that are cooked, spun in a centrifuge to remove excess fat, then treated with ammonia gas. US Department of Agriculture tests found up to 70 percent of ground beef in supermarkets contained it.

Beef that isn’t exactly what it says on the package isn’t anything new; an investigative series ran in Forbes magazine about Kobe and Wagyu beef, which are supposed to be the tastiest, finest caliber beef one can buy. What many never knew was that from 2009 to mid-2012, according to Forbes, Kobe beef couldn’t be sold in the United States, despite many people paying top-dollar for it at steakhouses.

Then again, a bunch of hoi-toi yuppies getting duped…can be overlooked.

Meat industry taking after seafood industry

What is certainly clear is that ground beef is being adulterated, whether with the horse meat scandal in Britain and Ireland or the pink slime controversy here at home.

The seafood industry, likewise, has been known to be rife with fraud for years, as numerous supermarkets have been caught over the years selling fish as different species; usually, a more common fish will be sold as a more expensive, sought-after species. It’s one of the most common forms of food fraud.

It certainly would appear, at face value, that a lot of ground beef doesn’t contain as much ground beef as we would all like to believe. However, there are ways to make sure one gets what they pay for. You can buy the cheapest steak possible and grind it yourself. Many farms will sell whole, half or quarter sides of beef, including large parcels of ground beef. It’s expensive – half a beef can set you back up to $1,500 – but you will taste the difference.






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