The horse meat scandal, which has embroiled Europe and led Burger King Worldwide Inc (NYSE:BKW) to drop one of its suppliers in the UK., is calling into question the complexity of our food chain process. The Associated Press reports that investigators searching for answers to the scandal have uncovered a food chain that some say has become so complex that it’s no longer safe.
Consumers expect to have access to meat, and they want it at a good price. As a result, some companies apparently began mixing in horse meat with beef in order to boost its volume. After all, more meat means higher revenue.
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Horse meat isn’t technically unsafe, but the scandal involving beef tainted with horse meat has raised the rancor of people throughout the U.K. Three of the companies which offered products that were discovered to contain horse DNA said they got their products from Comigel, a food processing company in France.
Comigel got the products from Tavola, a subsidiary located in Luxembourg. Tavola actually ordered the meat to use in making the products. The meat came from Spanghero, a company in southern France.
Spanghero involved a trader from Cyprus, who subcontracted a trader from the Netherlands.
The Dutch trader actually ordered the meat from an abattoir in Romania, and the meat then went to Spanghero. Spanghero sent it to Comigel’s Luxembourg factory, and from there it was put into food products that went all over Europe.
Maybe we need a diagram for all this.
At this point it is still unknown exactly where the horse meat came into play, but this process of getting meat from the abbatoir to dinner tables across Europe is pretty standard. And the horse meat scandal begs the question of what else might be getting into that meat before it reaches the dinner table.
According to The Associated Press, some critics of the meat processing chain believe last year’s ban of de-sinewed meat in the U.K. led meat processing companies to look for an alternative. De-sinewed meat is a cheap form of minced meat which comes from carcasses that no longer have prime cuts left on them. Some believe that adding horse meat to the beef offered a way for companies to replace one cheap meat product with another that had been banned.