Food Industry

Burger King Drops Supplier Linked to Horse Meat

Miami-based Burger King is cutting ties with a United Kingdom meat supplier found to be using horse meat to "beef up" its products.

Burgers from processors Liffey Meats and Silvercrest Foods in Ireland and Dalepak Hambleton in Britain tested positive for horse DNA, according to Reuters. Part-horse patties were also sent to grocery chains throughout the UK.

The scandal sent shockwaves through the nation's multibillion-dollar beef industry, but other than being gross by American standards, it almost seems like no big deal. The UK sends "thousands of horses a year abroad to be killed for meat," according to a story in USA Today.

More recently, Dr. Andrew Wadge, who heads the UK's Food Standards Agency, told a British food industry publication "there's nothing about horsemeat that makes it any less safe than any other meat products."

Such statements ought to be taken with a grain of salt, as often times government "watchdogs" are merely transplants from the private sector. Take for example America's financial regulators.

Is horse meat really the worst thing we can eat? If it were actually meat, real muscular protein, it could be preferable to the so-called pink slime that temporarily disgusted much of America's fast-food-eating public.

A recent Cobaya dinner, Miami's not-so-underground-underground dining club, at 50 Eggs' Khong River House offered silkworm larvae, deep-fried waterbug, and a red ant egg salad. Assuming horse meat can be treated with the same concerns for health and safety, could it actually be that bad?

People of different cultures are raised in environments and with ingredients that make their palates and preferences far different from ours in the West. The Vietnamese love for chewy and gristly bites is why you often find braised beef tendons in that bowl of pho you posted on Instagram.

Finding out there's horse meat in (some) of our burgers is certainly a revolting discovery, especially when it's being done under the table, behind consumers' backs and without any oversight.

Yet there are also incredible stressors on our food system. Though the massive amount of waste should be enough to feed the 870 million people who go hungry every day, the move toward efficiency is slow. At the same time, the world population could rise to almost 10 billion by 2050.

Those of us in the First World who aren't obsessed with finding the next trendy bit of offal to eat might have to get used to the fact that we might not get the choicest, prettiest cuts of meat. Ranchers don't grow pork chops and beef tenderloins.

For more follow Zach on Twitter @ZachIsWeird.

Follow Short Order on Facebook, on Twitter @Short_Order, and Instagram @ShortOrder.

KEEP MIAMI NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Zachary Fagenson became the New Times Broward-Palm Beach restaurant critic in 2012 before taking up the post for Miami in 2014. He also works as a correspondent for Reuters.
Contact: Zachary Fagenson