Are You Eating Horse Meat? How Can You Tell?

February 14, 2013

In many parts of our world horse meat is regularly sold and consumed, yet for Americans, Irish, the Brits and a few other pockets the very thought of it ellicits a gag reflex and, in quite a few cases – anger, but how can you tell if you’re eating horse meat or not?

To my knowledge, I’ve never eaten horse meat but with that said, I have been to France many times. Having ordered “beef” and eaten kebobs the likelihood that I have unknowingly tried it is high. However, unlike many Americans, the thought of horse meat consumption does not make me shudder to my very core. I quite obviously LOVE horses. I’ve dedicated the last 7 years of my life to helping promote the positive aspects of the horse industry. So, am I not really human, not really American or simply inhumane? No to all three. This is likely because my father was, and please don’t stereotype me here cause I’m not at all what you’re about to think… My father was a gun toting, NRA card carrying large game hunter slash taxidermist by trade. He had me hand loading my own ammo at age 8 and I single-shot my first deer, to please daddy of course, at 10. Therefore carcasses and guts of cute furry animals, large game, birds, aquatic life and unusual reptiles alike are common place with me. But I digress. Coming back to the anthropomorphization of it, I wouldn’t eat Bambi either. So how do I know what horse meat tastes like?..

The Taste
I have spoke with people who have or do eat it. They say it is leaner than beef and relatively tender and it has a pronounced sweet taste to it. It is said people often mistake it for a blend of beef and venison. Meat from younger horses is said to be lighter in color and flavor while the meat from older horses extremely sweet, incredibly tender, and deep in color (oddly the opposite with beef and the procurement of veal). The nitty gritty of it’s nutritional value – it’s low fat, low cholesterol and high in iron. Yet I don’t have a hard and fast answer for how to tell. If you’re completely freaked at the thought of an accidental hap then it might be best to go vegetarian, at least for a while.

The Scandal
Yes, it’s a scandal on a massive scale. If you’ve listened to the news anytime in the last week, you’ve heard the ever expanding fallout from horse meat, and we’re talking 100% in some cases, being pawned off as beef in burgers, ready meals, and kebobs. At first site the proverbial finger was pointed at France. Ah, oui oui, da Fraaann-CH. Well it’s not just Pepé Le Pew and his lot. It’s reached into Ireland and even back into the discoverers own back yard of West Wales in Aberystwyth. I can only fathom the outlandish remarks Granny would have over tea in the Drawing Room at Downton! “Oh good, let’s talk about horse slaughter.” The powers that be have repeatedly assured the public there’s no need to worry but I’d personally prefer NOT to sit down to a warm meal of Phenylbutazone which is an additional disconcerting side to the matter.

The Resolution
Those of us horse lovers like to think of their hearts pounding to win the Kentucky Derby or carrying Jim Craig down the side of an impossible mountain. That love, that bond, that connection only true horse lovers who’ve genuinely connected with at least one horse in their life can feel just won’t most go to that other place. I certainly wouldn’t intentionally sidle up to a plate of Black Beauty. But the answers are unclear. Over-regulation increases prices and trying to come out of a double dipper that’s not ideal still functional regulation is needed. Comparing to our regulators stateside, the USDA is deemed to provide high standards of beef plants yet many fast food restaurant burgers can be tested with an alarmingly high percentage of feces (SEE Food, Inc. for more info). It makes this fleeting lass wonder how they can legally label it 100% beef if that be the case and there’s one thing western societies tend to get a wad in their panties about – being lied to. So stateside its feces and across the pond it’s horse, the “beef” manufacturing plants have obviously been lying. Regulation yes but heads need to roll and not horse heads but the heads of the people making decisions about selling a lie to consumers. Okey and because I have been a bit more out there than usual, I’ll qualify that last sentence by saying the decision makers of those found guilty simply need to be sacked.

How do you feel about this whole fiasco? Do you think it’s acceptable to eat horse? If so, why?