How eating horse could change the food industry

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Here’s a solution to the horse-meat crisis that’s sweeping Europe: Eat more horse.


In case you missed it, Europe is in one of its periodic food frenzies. This time it concerns horse that was found posing as beef in cheap hamburgers, kebabs, frozen lasagna and spaghetti bolognese TV dinners.


A picture is emerging of an extended food-supply chain that ran from Romania, to Cyprus and the Netherlands, to France and the U.K..


Three men were arrested in the U.K. this week, while the French government said the French meat company Spanghero SAS had processed at least 750 tons of horsemeat that left the factory labeled as beef.


Governments are focused on a criminal conspiracy, but the problem is primarily systemic. The head of the U.K. Food Standards Agency said people may have been eating horse disguised as beef for years.


Somewhere along the food industry’s increasingly extended food-supply chain, though, the system of certificates was abused on a large scale. The problem has been decades in coming as the giant grocery chains have come to dominate the food industry, squeezing producer margins, and governments have relied more on the stores for quality control.


The horses that became lasagna meat won’t have died in vain if the result is that companies such as Tesco Plc and Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s Asda unit source their meat more directly, closer to the point of sale, and if the inspection system is upgraded.


Read more: Let Them Eat Horse


Bloomberg Businessweek