Amid a crisis that's gripping the United Kingdom and frightening eaters everywhere, it was reported last night that Findus, a major Swedish purveyor of frozen meals, has been using horse meat as a main ingredient in their beef lasagna products — up to 60 percent, in fact. According to the AP, Findus has recalled the product, hopefully mitigating some of the harm done to fragile psyches and weak stomachs already worn down from the three-week-long horse-meat scare. And even though the "outbreak" seems on the downturn and won't make its way stateside, it's hard not to be prepared anyway. Here's how to tell if you've accidentally tastes horse meat — and, relax, turns out it's not that bad, and that you probably haven't anyway.
You May Have Noticed That Your "Beef" Was Sweeter Than Normal
First up in our culinary adventure is a taste test. Chances are you probably wouldn't be able to tell your ground beef was flecked with traces of horse meat if only a small amount made its way into the mix. "Some think it is a blend between beef (a cow) and venison (deer)," reports the International Business Times. But apparently, by itself, horse has a certain kick. "It is slightly sweeter than beef and it has got such a good depth of flavor it is hard not to like it," a horse meat dining expert told USA Today. "It tasted...fine. A bit like beef. Certainly not the horsey, sweaty, gamy flavor I'd imagined. In fact, it was disconcertingly normal," wrote Bon Appetit's Matt Gross. Simply put, unless you ate a plate of pure horse meat or were specifically seeking it out in your dish, you may not have noticed the equine meat's "disconcertingly normal" flavor.
You May Have Noticed Your "Beef" Smelled
"The smell and taste were decidedly different, a bit sweet, but it went down and it stayed down," wrote The New York Times's Michael Johnson in 2008.
You Ate Beef Lasagna From Findus, a Tesco Beef Burger, or at a U.K. Burger King
Today's horse meat culprit appears to be the beef lasagna products from the Swedish company Findus. The 60 percent figured cited by the AP is about double the amount found in beef burgers from Tesco, a U.K. retailer, back on January 15. And the British version of Burger King has said it's possible but not certain they may have served horse-meat burgers, back on January 31. So, yeah, if you're living in the U.K. you're in the epicenter of this horse-meat epidemic, but it's winding down.
Are you freaking out yet? Nervous that you may have slurped down on horse meat? Well, relax. It's not going to make you sick and people outside of the United States and the U.K. eat horse meat all the time and think it's delicious. "It's also a staple in some Central Asian countries -- Kazakh Olympians brought along their own supply of horse sausages to the London Olympics," reports Foreign Policy's Joshua Keating. But obviously, the point here is getting what you're asking for, and like a vegetarian being slipped brisket, people who don't eat horse shouldn't really be getting it.
(Photo by Lenkadan via Shutterstock)