Horse meat scandal rocks British burger business

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Several meat processors supplying stores and restaurants in England and Ireland apparently have added horse meat to ground beef, creating a scandal across the region’s food industry this week. According to a Reuters report, retailers including Britain’s largest chain Tesco have sold ground-beef products that contained up to 29 percent horse meat.

Burger King, one of the most popular fast-food chains in the region, announced it has stopped purchasing beef from Silvercrest Foods, one of suppliers caught up in the scandal, and is developing alternative sources.

This is a serious issue, and we hope nothing like it ever happens here, but it reminds me of a somewhat humorous incident. Some years ago I was driving across Nebraska on I-80, diligently carrying out my duties as a Drovers editor. Lacking time and options, I swung into a roadside fast-food restaurant to grab lunch. It might have even been a Burger King.

Ahead of me at the counter was a gentleman with his wife and two young kids. The family  clearly came from elsewhere and were unfamiliar with American culture. The man spoke in broken, Eastern-European accented English. After ordering burgers, fries and drinks for the family, the man had a question for the small-town Nebraska teenager behind the counter.

Customer: “Beef, right? No horse?”

Employee: “Huh?”

Customer: “Beef, no horse?”

Employee: “What?”

Customer: Beef, no horse?

Employee: “Oh, yeah, our burgers are all beef. No horse.”

Customer: “Good”

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