Burger King UK caught feeding people donkey meat and calling it beef
I wholly agree with the ultimate point here: it isn't that donkey or horse is grosser than cow, it's that you have a right to expect that the food you are putting in your body is accurately labeled.
Last week it was reported that the burgers sold by Burger King in Ireland and Britain were testing positive for equine DNA. To the layperson, that means horse meat. Meat sold in certain grocery stores was also contaminated. First, the country's Food Safety Authority was finding alleged "beef" with 29% horse meat. Then, they started finding "beef" with 75% horse. Then, 80%. Ultimately, some frozen lasagnas contained 100% horse.
Recalls and apologies have been issued, firings and fines are on the way. But then a new, even more troubling, bit of information surfaced: All that horse meat might actually be donkey meat.
The reasoning for such thinking is one-part legislative, one-part history. You see, the meat sold in Britain and Ireland took a bit of a circuitous route to get there. Before landing in the United Kingdom, it was in a French-owned factory in Luxembourg. Before then, the south of France. And Holland. And Cyprus. Until you get to the true originator of the meat, the country of Romania. And Romania has had some notable recent changes to their laws:
Horse-drawn carts were a common form of transport for centuries in Romania, but hundreds of thousands of the animals are feared to have been sent to the abattoir after the change in road rules. The law, which was passed six years ago but only enforced recently, also banned carts drawn by donkeys, leading to speculation among food-industry officials in France that some of the "horse meat" which has turned up on supermarket shelves in Britain, France and Sweden may, in fact, turn out to be donkey meat.
Now, before anyone gets on their high-horse (or high-donkey, at it were) about it not being a big deal what kind of meat is being eaten -- eating a cow is the same as eating a horse is the same as eating a donkey -- let me derail that line of thinking right away. The whole point of this story is not that different cultures have different hierarchies of what animals are acceptable to devour. This is, instead, a glaring warning sign about the failure to label food properly.
This issue goes beyond meat. How do we know if something vegetarian doesn't have meat in it without a proper label? How do we know if something has nuts we're allergic to? How can we know if there are GMOs in our food if you don't give them a label?