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United Kingdom Science

How Much Beef Is In Your Burger? 709

dgharmon writes in with an interesting article about how much (or how little) beef is in a UK burger. "The presence of horsemeat in value beefburgers has caused a furore. But what is usually in the patties? It has been a sobering week for fans of the beefburger. Tesco have used full-page adverts in national newspapers to apologize for selling burgers in the UK that were found to contain 29% horsemeat. Traces of horse DNA were also detected by the Food Standards Agency of Ireland in products sold by Iceland, Lidl, Aldi and Dunnes. But a beefburger rarely contains 100% beef."
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How Much Beef Is In Your Burger?

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  • by davidwr ( 791652 ) on Sunday January 20, 2013 @05:18PM (#42641605) Homepage Journal

    Deceptive trade practices is the problem.

  • Re:Go Vegan (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 20, 2013 @05:23PM (#42641641)

    yes you just have to worry about malnutrition!

  • Actually (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AliasMarlowe ( 1042386 ) on Sunday January 20, 2013 @05:23PM (#42641647) Journal
    Actually horse meat [] is pretty good; I like it more than beef, and around here the price is comparable. It's tastier than beef, and also has fewer adverse consequences for your health. Horse meat becomes more tender as the animal ages - unlike cattle - and a rather larger percentage of the animal is good meat (although each horse eats more than cattle yielding similar meat mass). Of course, horses are often though of as companion animals, (disclaimer: I own and ride a horse) and it's not customary to eat any animal you gave a name to. Our horse has a name, and the kids would not tolerate any discussion of eating him...
  • Re:Actually (Score:5, Insightful)

    by chihowa ( 366380 ) on Sunday January 20, 2013 @05:36PM (#42641751)

    I think the problem is rather less about the actual horse meat and more about deception. If you're buying something labeled 'beef', it's not pleasant to find that it's up to a third 'not-beef'. With that deception also comes the suspicion of further deception. Does the product even meet health standards? Can you believe anything else that's written about the product on the label?

    Then, horse meat is generally cheaper than beef. So charging beef prices for deceptively labeled horse meat is its own valid source of complaint.

  • by mattsday ( 909414 ) on Sunday January 20, 2013 @05:39PM (#42641775)

    It's not about the ethics of the animal in question, it's about the promises made by the manufacturer (no mention of horse) and the questions of quality control, correct process and oversight.

    My concern isn't "OMG HORSIES!"

    My concern is "fuck you consumer" as they pump the product full of whatever they think they can get away with to turn a profit.

  • by Jah-Wren Ryel ( 80510 ) on Sunday January 20, 2013 @05:42PM (#42641807)

    That's partly because it was made illegal in 2006 or 2007 (indirectly, they defunded the government inspectors of horsemeat so, no inspection, no sale). That caused a lot of horsemeat to be shipped to other countries. However, back in 2011 the horsemeat inspectors got funded again so now you can eat a horse if you are hungry enough.

    FWIW, the absolute best piece of meat I've ever eaten was horse - in the italian part of switzerland, I ordered it as a lark. They served it so rare it was bloody and I could barely take the first bite. But it was amazingly tender and not gamy at all. Better than the best filet mignon. However I've been told my experience is not the norm, the stuff is usually stringy.

  • by GNUALMAFUERTE ( 697061 ) <<moc.liamg> <ta> <etreufamla>> on Sunday January 20, 2013 @05:45PM (#42641833)

    You buy your burgers premade! I eat burgers frequently, but I make them myself. it would never occur to me to purchase them premade. Just grind the meat, take a bunch of the result, mix it up with some garlic and onions, and a few other species, then pack it gently with your hands, and that's it!

    it's the grease in the meat that keep it together. You don't need anything else.

  • Re:Go Vegan (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hsmith ( 818216 ) on Sunday January 20, 2013 @05:56PM (#42641949)
    Yes, but you die from exhaustion telling everyone you are a vegan. Bad trade off.
  • Re:Go Vegan (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jamesh ( 87723 ) on Sunday January 20, 2013 @06:23PM (#42642153)

    yes you just have to worry about malnutrition!

    You have to worry more about accidentally ingesting dairy and losing the vegan super powers you gained at vegan academy

  • by period3 ( 94751 ) on Sunday January 20, 2013 @06:26PM (#42642173)

    I would purchase them again today.
    Horses are not especially more intelligent than cows.

    Horse meat is also very tasty -- I like it better than beef. Unfortunately, it's very difficult to buy where I live. One restaurant offered it, but there was a huge uproar about it and I believe they've now taken it off their menu.

    It's really not fair that I should have to change my diet because of a bunch of loud-mouthed activisits. Either meat is legal or it isn't, and -- except for reasons of public health -- I don't see why some species should be considered 'OK' and others not.

  • by jamesh ( 87723 ) on Sunday January 20, 2013 @06:31PM (#42642195)

    Dont't get it, meat is meat, and with spices on it'll taste the same. If people get upset by horsemeat, cowmeat , dogmeat or whatever, maybe they shoudln't eat meat at all.

    Wrong. You don't want to eat the meat from an animal that also eats meat. Remember what happened when they fed ground up cows to cows? It doesn't end well.

  • Various people have commented that this isn't about the fact it was horse, that it's all about deception or poor food quality.

    Actually it's about food safety, traceability, and the long shadow of BSE.

    After the BSE scandal, the UK and EU introduced some of the strictest standards and processes for the tracking and tracing of meat in the world. These recent cases have demonstrated that these processes do not appear to be working.

    The scandal here is not that supermarkets were selling burgers with horsemeat in, it was that they *didn't know* they were selling horsemeat. In theory they should be able to trace every gram of meat in their burgers.

    Somehow meat of unknown origin was getting into the food chain.

    If we can't prevent horsemeat getting in then we can't prevent infected beef from getting in.

    That's the real scandal, that the world's toughest food traceability system appears not to work properly.

  • by Belial6 ( 794905 ) on Sunday January 20, 2013 @07:03PM (#42642453)
    It isn't just the horse culture. There is a widespread mental disorder in the US where people have a difficult time differentiating between humans and other animals. It seems to be getting worse as time goes on.
  • Re:Actually (Score:2, Insightful)

    by xelah ( 176252 ) on Sunday January 20, 2013 @07:06PM (#42642479)
    Probably. As I understand it, the test only reveals that it was 29% horse DNA, not 29% horse meat. It might be 29% horse meat, or they might, for some reason, have filled it with stuff extracted from horse carcases that has more DNA. I'm not a biologist or food scientist, but how about, say, hydrolyzed protein or collagen. AIUI, hydrolyzed protein will absorb water, giving you more weight with less meat.

To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, be nothing. -- Elbert Hubbard