Horsemeat Scandal Goes Global As World's Largest Food Maker Pulls Tainted Pasta From Spain And Italy

Tyler Durden's picture

First it was Ireland, then the entire UK, then Germany, and gradually it spread to all of Europe (except for France of course, where it was always a delicacy). But it was only once its finally crossed the Alps and made its way to the Swiss factories of Nestle, the world's largest food maker, did the horsemeat scandal truly go global. The FT reports that "the escalating horsemeat scandal has ensnared two of the biggest names in the food industry, Nestlé, the world’s number-one food maker, and JBS, the largest beef producer by sales. Switzerland-based Nestlé on Monday removed pasta meals from shelves in Italy and Spain and suspended deliveries of all processed products containing meat from German supplier, H.J. Schypke, after tests revealed traces of horse DNA above 1 per cent. Nestlé said it had informed the authorities....Nestlé withdrew two chilled pasta products, Buitoni Beef Ravioli and Beef Tortellini from sale in Italy and Spain. Lasagnes à la Bolognaise Gourmandes, a frozen meat product for catering businesses produced in France, will also be withdrawn."

And now we wait as the panic spreads across the Atlantic to the US, where every food purist, who until recently stuffed themselves full of pink slime and still eats bucketfulls of the mysterious "meat" known as KFC, will accuse their retailer of horseplay, and demand that every burger be triple tested at massive bottom line losses to already profit-strapped food producers everywhere (but will certainly help Madison Avenue as horse ads become the latest advertising meme).

From the FT:

“We are also enhancing our existing comprehensive quality assurance programme by adding new tests on beef for horse DNA prior to production in Europe,” said Nestlé, which just last week said products under its labels were not affected.

The European food industry has already been crippled as the horsemeat scandal unfolds:

Nielsen, the consumer research group, said sales of frozen burgers in the week to February 2 fell 40 per cent, and more than two-thirds of British adults said they would be less likely to buy frozen meat products in the future.


Two people who attended the meeting described it as “constructive”. However, the minister was challenged by several people on how quickly the Food Standards Agency and the Department of Environment acted on intelligence it had received on the food supply chain. One retailer also said an attack by David Cameron on the supermarkets on Friday “had not necessarily been helpful”.


The testing, which some supermarkets already carry out, will mean extra costs for retailers at a time of weak consumer confidence.


Suppliers reckon they will end up bearing the brunt of the cost – adding to the pressure on margins which, some say, caused the problem in the first place.


“The people who in the end will suffer are the food manufacturers, because they will be forced to undertake testing. And the people with the power in this relationship on the whole are the food retailers,” said one industry player.


Many believe equine testing is just the tip of the iceberg. “I am sure this will rapidly move on to other species,” said Adam Couch, chief executive of Cranswick, a meat and pastry goods supplier, which has not been implicated in the scandal.

This is good news for KFC, because once the testing spreads to Yum's restaurant chain, half the DNA that is consumed on the premises will be found to have no earthly basis, and thus, well, "you must acquit".

As for those who are still a lap behind the latest newsflow in the race for the horsemeat-free trifecta, the Guardian has conveniently released the definitive guide to the Equine scandal.

Horsemeat scandal: the essential guide

With the Europewide scandal over the contamination of meat products, from beefburgers to lasagne, showing no sign of abating, study the issue in depth and learn all you need to know about how it came to this with our essential guide.

1. Where did the horsemeat scandal begin?

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland tested a range of cheap frozen beefburgers and ready meals from supermarkets last November for the presence of DNA from other species which were undeclared. It found horse DNA in over one-third of the beefburger samples, and pig in 85% of them.

The majority of the beef ready meals also contained pig DNA but not horse. One beefburger sample from Tesco turned out to be 29% horse instead of beef. Until then supermarkets and enforcement bodies had not tested for horse in beef products, because no one expected it to be there.

There are conflicting reports as to whether the agency began its investigation as random surveillance or after having been tipped off. Because the findings were so serious and likely to do huge damage to commercial interests, the FSAI then spent two months retesting before announcing its findings on 15 January.

The Irish and UK supermarket supply chains are highly integrated. FSAI says it alerted the UK Food Standards Agency in November since what was on sale in Ireland would also be on sale in the UK; the FSA told MPs that it only found out in January. No one knows how long the adulteration has gone on.

2. Where did the horse and pig found by the Irish in beef products come from?

The Irish survey identified three factories as the source of beef products that had been contaminated or adulterated: Silvercrest Foods in Ireland, Dalepak in Yorkshire and Liffey Meats in Ireland. Silvercrest and Dalepak are both subsidiaries of ABP Food Group, one of the largest beef processors in Europe.

ABP pointed the finger of blame at its continental suppliers, with the FSAI saying these were in the Netherlands and Spain. It later said the horsemeat had entered its chain through suppliers in Poland. The Polish government checked its horse slaughterhouses and found no irregularities in labelling. Five weeks into the scandal and the links in the Irish chain have still not been fully established.

Huge blocks of frozen meat at a cold store in Northern Ireland, Freeza Foods, which had been quarantined by officials suspicious of its labelling and state of packaging, were found to contain 80% horse. Freeza Foods said the meat blocks had been delivered to its store by meat broker McAdam Foods but that it had rejected them and only continued storing them as a "goodwill" measure for McAdam. McAdam said it in turn had been sold them by a meat trader in Hull, Flexi Foods, which imports from Poland and elsewhere. ABP confirmed it had been supplied materials by McAdam but the two companies have given conflicting accounts of what the deliveries have been.

ABP has also confirmed that it has been supplied with beef by Norwest Foods, based in Cheshire, with operations in Poland and Spain, which is now also part of FSA inquiries.

The first case of horsemeat being found in fresh beef surfaced this week, when Asda withdrew its fresh beef bolognese. Its supplier was the Irish company Greencore, which said it had in turn been supplied the meat by ABP.

3. Why did some products contain so much more horse than others?

Industry sources and food safety officials believe there are different types of adulteration taking place. Where trace levels of DNA of the wrong species, particularly pig, have been found in beef, the most likely explanation is that they have been contaminated either by failure to clean production lines thoroughly enough between different processing, or that the DNA is present in protein additives widely used in the industry to bulk out cheap so-called value or economy ranges. An economy beefburger can legally contain as little as 47% beef.

Manufacturers add other cheap ingredients including water and fat, and use concentrated proteins to bind the water and fat in. They may appear on labels as "seasoning". One of the cheapest sources of these protein additives is pork rind. It is possible that horse hide is now also being used. The widespread adulteration of cheap chicken breast with pig and beef proteins and water has been uncovered in previous scandals. The beef proteins were derived from hydrolysed cattle hides. It is not illegal to use these protein concentrates so long as they are identified correctly to the manufacturer.

Where horse has been found above trace levels, however, experts believe they are looking at fraudulent substitution of horse for beef. Where horse has been found in high concentrations, they say it suggests industrial scale adulteration.

4. How did the rest of Europe get involved?

Once the Irish authorities had reported their findings, the UK FSA asked industry to test all its beef products for horse. The next round of tests revealed that the "beef" in frozen lasagne and spaghetti bolognese made for Tesco, Aldi and Findus by a French manufacturer, Comigel, was up to 100% horse.

Comigel was making cheap beef meals for supermarkets and branded companies in 16 different countries so the scandal spread rapidly, with horsemeat meals being withdrawn in Germany, Sweden, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland, as well as Ireland and the UK.

5. Is the source of the Irish horsemeat the same as the French one?

The trail of the French manufacturing scandal has taken a different route to the Irish/British one so far. Comigel had subcontracted its ready meal production to a factory in Luxembourg, Tavola. It was supplied with meat by a company called Spanghero. Spanghero had bought meat from a Dutch fraudster already convicted of passing horse off as beef, Jan Fasen.

The Dutch trader ran a company called Draap, which spelled backwards is paard or Dutch for horse. It was registered in Cyprus in 2008, with an offshore vehicle in the British Virgin Islands. It emerged during Fasen's trial in Holland that he had supplied French companies with horsemeat imported from South America and Mexico fraudulently labelled as Dutch and German "beef" going back to 2007.

The horsemeat found in the recent tests on ready meals exported from France was said to have been sourced by Draap from Romania. The Romanian government has said its meat was legally exported correctly labelled as horse. The French government said Spanghero was the first agent to stamp the horse as beef; Spanghero has denied doing so deliberately. Fasen says Spanghero and French manufacturers were in on the deception from the beginning.

6. Why are the supply chains so complex?

The food and retail industries have become highly concentrated and globalised in recent decades. A handful of key players dominate the beef processing and supermarket sectors across Europe. They have developed very long supply chains, particularly for their economy lines, which enable them to buy the ingredients for processed foods from wherever they are cheapest at any point, depending on exchange rates and prices on the global commodity markets. Networks of brokers, cold stores operators and subcontracted meat cutting plants have emerged to supply rapidly fluctuating orders "just in time". Management consultants KPMG estimate there are around 450 points at which the integrity of the chain can break down.

7. Why has it happenened?

Supermarket buyers and big brands have been driving down prices, seeking special offers on meat products as consumers cut back on their spending in the face of recession. The squeeze on prices has come at a time when manufacturers' costs have been soaring. Beef prices have been at record highs as has the price of grain needed to feed cattle. The cost of energy, heavily used in industrial processing and to fuel centralised distribution chains, has also soared. There has been a mistmatch between the cost of real beef and what companies are prepared to pay.

8. How is the meat industry regulated?

Licensed slaughterhouses across Europe are required to have an official vet in attendance when slaughtering takes place – in the UK most used to be directly employed by the government but many are now supplied under contract to the Food Standards Agency by the private company Eville & Jones. Plants over a certain size are also required to have a meat hygiene inspector. A trend to deregulate and leave industry to police itself, begun under the last government, has seen numbers of inspectors fall from 1,700 at the height of the BSE crisis to around 800 now. Smaller cutting plants are no longer subject to daily inspection. The Food Standards Agency has limited powers – it has depended on industry alerting it to the results of tests voluntarily. Enforcement largely falls to individual local authorities and their trading standards officers, and their budgets have been slashed.

9. What about industry claims that it has full traceability?

The industry has previously boasted that it has full traceability of its supply chain which it audits frequently. The current scandal shows that that traceability is not worth the paper it is generally written on. Most of the factories caught up in the scandal have accreditation with mainstream auditing schemes such as that run by the British Retail Consortium but it failed to spot the problem.

10. What happened to government control of food safety and standards?

The Food Standards Agency was set up in the wake of the BSE crisis when it became clear that one agency that co-ordinated all regulation on food safety and quality was needed. Political memories have been short, however. The coalition government broke up much of the FSA in its bonfire of the quangos, so that responsibility in the current scandal is split. The FSA is still in charge of food safety; the Department of Health is responsible for nutritional standards, and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs covers labelling and veterinary medicines.

11. Where do the horses come from?

The Polish and Romanian governments have not only protested their innocence of exporting horse as beef but also pointed out that their horse slaughtering industries are not large enough to account for the scale of adulteration that is emerging. Respected animal welfare organisations have warned governments for several years about the growing trade in knackered horses both between Ireland, the UK, France and Belgium, and between North and South America, and continental Europe. Much of the latter is landed via Belgium. The welfare charities have documented horses in the thousands that have been moved by networks of horse dealers without proper passports. They are a mixture of horses bred for racing and pets.

12. What part do UK horse abattoirs play?

There is an established transport corridor for horses for slaughter from Ireland through Scotland or Wales to England and on to Europe. Last week a horse abattoir in Yorkshire, Peter Boddy, was raided along with a Welsh meat trading company. Three men have been arrested on suspicion of offences under the Fraud Act. The Peter Boddy abattoir, now closed, was small, with official records showing it slaughtered 44 horses last year.

13. Why are governments talking about organised crime?

Previous convictions of dealers and traders along with intelligence suggest a link between the horse trade, meat laundering and various forms of trafficking. Lorries transporting horses have been used as cover for smuggling large quantities of cannabis between the UK and Northern Ireland and lorries transporting horsemeat to the continent are believed to be used for people smuggling on the return journey.

14. Is it a health problem?

The government said at first that there was no health risk from horsemeat, but a leading government public analyst pointed out that it could not be sure until it knew the source of the horsemeat. The latest advice from the chief medical officer is that there is a risk but that it is very low.

Horses are routinely treated with an anti-inflammatory drug called phenylbutazone, or "bute". Bute is banned from the human food chain, because it can in rare cases cause a potentially life threatening illness, aplastic anaemia, or bone marrow failure. Since it is not known what triggers the illness, it has not been possible to set any safe level for bute residues in human food. Doses from horsemeat are likely to be very low. Horse passports are supposed to record any bute administered so that animals can be excluded from going for food, but with large numbers of fake passports in circulation, some horses containing bute have been eaten.

Since the scandal the government has changed the rules so that horse carcasses may now only be released for consumption once they have been tested for bute. The first batch of tests found around 4% of horse testing positive. The horse trade from the Americas has similarly been bedevilled by problems with horse passports and drug contamination.

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Whoa Dammit's picture

Pure propaganda. You would pretty much have to eat an entire horse every day to have any ill effects from bute.

From Phenylbutazone in the horse: a review:

" Phenylbutazone is highly bound (greater than 98%) to plasma protein. After i.v. injection, blood levels decline with an elimination half-life of 3-10 h. The plasma kinetics of phenylbutazone may be dose dependent, with the plasma half-life increasing as the drug dosage level increases. Plasma residues of the drug at 24 h after a single i.v. dose of 2 g/450 kg average about 0.9 microgram/ml, but considerable variation occurs. If dosing is repeated, the plasma residue accumulates to give mean residual blood levels of approximately 4.5 microgram/ml on Day 5 after 4 days of dosing. Approximately similar blood levels are found after a combination of oral and i.v. dosing."

Bute is being used in research to prevent cancer:

"Phenylbutazone may be of interest regarding research into anti-proliferative effects as well, especially in colorectal cancer studies. In studies with human colon cancer cell lines investigating anti-proliferative capabilities of NSAIDs, Phenylbutazone was noted to have intermediate anti-proliferative potency as compared to other NSAIDs."


That being said, for personal reasons I wouldn't want to eat  horse meat and object strongly to the food industry foisting it on people who believe they are buying a quite different product.

Miffed Microbiologist's picture

Agree Whoa, Bute is heavily used in the horse industry but the percentages of horse meat contamination cited here would not be dangerous to humans. The issue is fraud not public health. I for one would never wish to eat horse meat. I have had horses for 40 years. They are very different from bovines; sensitive, perceptive and quick. The slaughtering process would be terrifying to them. I know many would have a " parts is parts" view but those of us who know horses would feel differently. Funny thing is a few days ago my vet told me our area was home to 15,000 horses just 7 years ago and we now have 2,500. At $15-20/ bale of hay this made sense but I do wonder if USA has contributed to this in some way.


Non Passaran's picture

> The issue is fraud not public health.

But how the story is presented here one is lead to believe the main issue is public health and that there's something inherently wrong with (all) horse meat.

Non Passaran's picture

Bravo and thanks for the info.

Finally someone who doesn't groupthink!

Never One Roach's picture

Being defrauded about the meat cannot be the problem either. The world (including the EU) is saturated with fraud from banking to the real estate markets, so I doubt that's it. It's something on a deeper psychological level then fraud or bute. It also cannot be the "quality" of the food since KFC and McD are just as packed at the counters in Europe as anywhere else. These are both 'knee jerk reactions.'  It may be a deep emotional attachment to horses....I don't know.

swiss chick's picture

Once in awhile TPTB have to show us how much they take care of us, NO?

wee-weed up's picture

donkey pecker... Damn, you let the secret out... Now everyone will know what they do after the donkey show in Tijuana.

All I can say is... DO NOT eat the tacos down there!

Tijuana Donkey Show's picture

I just have a smoke, and think about how that poor girl lost her dignity in front of a large group of american men. A donkey show is one thing, but testifing before congress is enough for poor Hilliary Clinton. As least the glasses wipe off..............

wee-weed up's picture

TDS... Welcome, I thought I might get a rise out of you on this one.

I think even if we were to prove Hitlery actually "liked the donkeys," (they gotta be better than Slick Willey!) she would just shrug it off by proclaiming, "What difference does it make!"

Tijuana Donkey Show's picture

Don't diss slick Willey, he was great! As for Hitlery, fist, donkey dick, it's all large and in charge, so who's to call the little boundaries? If you were slick Willey, would you donkey show Hitlery? Not without the horsey sauce.

wee-weed up's picture

What a hoot! But I'm sure Hitlery would oooze plenty of her own sauce (juice) once the donkey mounted her!

Tijuana Donkey Show's picture

Also, we be wee-weeding up here right now. Gotta smoke at the show, before I disgrace the ho. If the ho don't fit, the show must acquit. 


(I'm imagining defending this joke in a GOVT trial several years from now. Not an easy sell....) 

wee-weed up's picture

What trial? They won't even bother with a re-education camp for us... we'll be first against the wall... and then, Ready, Aim, Fire!

StychoKiller's picture

From yer typical Bureaucrat:  "Ready, Fire, Aim!"

Elliott Eldrich's picture

"You'll ALL be eating roach crap by the turn of the century!" - "Bob" in a fight with his neighbors, according to the writings of the Church of the Subgenius.

Meh, so he was off by a decade or so. He screwed up on X-day too. You learn to take the fuckups with the slack when you walk the random path of the Subgenii...

JOYFUL's picture

There's a scandal going on here alright, but not all what it's being made out to be...

the bute thing is a joke...a made up excuse for a worry...there's so little compared to the massive amounts of hormones and antibiotics in 'normal' meat products that the whole thing is identical to the way neo-con sionazis obombats shed crocodile tears about how 'the people' of Libya-Syria-fill in next blank here- must be 'protected from their oppressive dictator leaders' so we'll just send in these mad dog jihadists to save them, whilst they drone 'the people' of Afghanistan-Pakistan-fill in your neighborhood here- to save them/you from the mad dog jihadists!!!!!

The real scandal is this...

the uproar over horsemeat in food supply is due to the instintive revulsion still lodged in the Europoid DNA for this misuse of our closest and dearest companions and helpmates of millenia....the real misnamed "indo-aryans" of our storied past were buried along with their horse...not the bizarre deteriorated phenomena of suttee of the Hindu recognition of our four-legged friends position at the heart and soul of our culture and security.

All over Eurasia we roamed as warriors and freemen, based soley/souly upon mastery of stirrup and spear. The deepest most instinctive fear of the cabbalist criminal cabal now destroying the west is the lodged memory of the horsemen  who ended their slaver empire in the Volga swamps and sent them packing in search of a real livelihood.

Invention of weapons of mass killing potential like the machine gun have been at the behest and to the enormous financial and social benefit of these anti-social millenialist lunatics...whose first actions when in control of Rus(as sionist Bolshies)was to preside over the mega destruction of the Cossack Tatar cavalries which had thundered over the steppes for centuries. And the West suffered the same fate with WWI, posion gases, and the elimination of the art of war(and the man who practiced it!) ...which has now reached it's sad apogee with the announcement by the usurpers of our culture of this: *

You are being bred and bled into a slave race...pick up your weapons and retrieve your honor now, or die on your knees as dregs of a once proud people and culture. Be a neigh-sayer to the death of the west!

*check out the face of that crypto Sabbatean in the pic and you will know the future...your khararian overlords.

Joe Liberman: Head of Homeland Security. Jewish

Diane Fienstien: Head of Senate Intelligence committee. Jewish

Daniel Benjiman: Head of Counter Terrorism. Jewish

Leon Panetta: Sec of Defense. Jewish

what's all the fuss!?

e-recep's picture

you still feed on what the msm cooked for you during cold war. the mess in usa was caused by ultra capitalists. profit no matter what. that's what capitalism is all about. and dont give that free market crap to me. capitalists hate free market.

s0lspot's picture

Yeah bro word keep mixing everything up like that you ignorant twat, EVERYBODY know that private companies doing dirty business together is socialism. Certainly not capitalism, and even less of the financial type, as EVERYBODY knows both promote exclusively "whiter than white" and "holier than thou" ethical conducts, procedures and respect between independent & unregulated market actors.

On ZH & everywhere else, choosing one's words carefully is what distinguishes a leader from a sheeple, whichever side he may be on.

thisandthat's picture


Capitalism (profit) at work.


Still, would rather eat certified horse/whatever meat than american frankenbeef.

Hulk's picture

Human males fucked the hairy Neanderthals out of existence, which simply implies that not even French Women are safe from us...

Teamtc321's picture

Arabian Stallion? WTF. True definition of a jack hammer, un-real.

InTheLandOfTheBlind's picture

+1 Rio you site for making squirt whiskey out my nose

InTheLandOfTheBlind's picture

twas makers and judging by my spelling last night, the 45% was working good.

butchee's picture

I was kinda wondering if any human DNA had been found in frozen patties?

Anusocracy's picture

It would be a happy day if hamburger contained 1% Elite meat.

spanish inquisition's picture

He said "tainted pasta"! Boy, they use every part of the horse for their fancy recipies in Europe.

Yen Cross's picture

 This global thingy dingy is antiquated.

Big Corked Boots's picture

Better to get your meat from the farmer down the road. At least you know where ol' Bossie has been.

Yen Cross's picture

 Bossie is a hottie. You read the Australian threads

 Are you kidding me?

 I.m out of touch. I like MILFS

Hulk's picture

Apparently, the Book of Revelations meant to say "Horsemeat of the apocalypse"

That is all for now...

espirit's picture

HeHe.  After all, this is Fight Club Bitchez.

Maybe the rich really do prefer "horse".

wstrub's picture

supply to get inflation up!  More convenient than a war......



Go Tribe's picture

I wondered what happened to Secretariat.

nmewn's picture

As they come out of the final turn...its Mo PokeChop on the inside, followed by SoTender, MyNeigh and Tripe...wait a minute! comes Alpo on the outside ridden by Francois!...he's giving her the crop now...just look at that tenderization he's doing to those haunches!

Its gonna be a photo finish!

TheFourthStooge-ing's picture

Win, place, and show each win a Genuine Beef label. The rest are just Gaines Burgers on the hoof.

Tijuana Donkey Show's picture

It's Dog food, followed by Dog food, followed by Makes his own gravy, being trailed by CPI Switchout for chicken for old people! Adjustments bitchez!

WillyGroper's picture

Secretariat, don't know. All I can say is that I wish CNBS would send Sea Biscuit to the slaughterhouse.

Mr Lennon Hendrix's picture

Well put Tyler. 

From KFC to McDonalds, who knows what in the hell everyone is eating.

TheFourthStooge-ing's picture


FiFi!  Where's my FiFi?

Have you checked AnAnonymous' wok?