- By Alicia P.Q. WittmeyerAlicia P.Q. Wittmeyer is the Europe editor at Foreign Policy. Her work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, and Forbes, among other places. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley, and master’s degrees from Peking University and the London School of Economics. The P.Q. stands for Ping-Quon.
Think horse meat in your lasagna is unappealing? Try some water buffalo sausage.
Horse meat is what’s making headlines at the moment, thanks to widespread discoveries of the unusual product lurking in so-called beef across Europe. But the past few weeks have been big in general for unexpected meats — thanks in some cases to testing that took place as a result of the horse meat scandal.
In a study released on Monday, for example, South African researchers found mystery ingredients ranging from soy products to donkey to goat to water buffalo in up to 68 percent of the meat products they tested.
In Switzerland, the Swiss Central Islamic Council found traces of pork in supposedly halal kebabs. And in the U.K., firms submitted to tests as part of the horse meat probe were found to also be selling donkey meat as beef. The Daily Mail conducted its own investigation on that British takeaway favorite, the lamb kebab, and found that they were often being bulked up with cheaper beef and chicken meat.
While the horse meat discovery sparks soul-searching in Europe over the modern food supply chain and the unintended consequences of horse-cart bans, it appears to be fueling what looks like schadenfreude across the pond (the Washington Post: "According to folklore, Europeans have always treated their food with reverence, eating Grandma’s slow-cooked stews concocted with farm-fresh ingredients while Americans wolfed down the genetically modified, chemically preserved junk that is symbolized by burgers and fries.").
And as food scandals continue to pile up, it seems more and more likely that horse meat — or maybe even donkey or goat — could end up in a burger on this side of the Atlantic. The safest bet? Go vegetarian.