There are lots of good reasons for avoiding meat these days—from the human health benefits to reducing the impact on the environment. And now, there are two more reasons: horsemeat and beaver meat in your ground meat products.
Two studies from Chapman University’s Food Science Program published in the forthcoming January 2016 journal Food Control, found that about 20 percent of labels on ground meat products including turkey, pork, chicken, and beef, did not accurately reflect the content. Often, the packages contained mixed animal species, some not often found on menus including beaver and horsemeat.
Out of 48 samples of both fresh and frozen ground meat products from conventional supermarkets, ten were mislabeled.
“Nine of those 10 packages contained a mix of meat species—partially what the label indicated and partially some other animal,” reports TakePart. “The tenth sample was meat from a completely different creature than what the label suggested.”
While some of the contamination likely comes from improper cleaning of factory equipment between species, that doesn’t account for all of it.
The researchers suggested “lower-cost species [are] being intentionally mixed in with higher-cost species for economic gain.”
The researchers found this particularly true in the specialty meat market for such wild game as bear, bison, yak, and pheasant. In that study 10 out of 54 packages were mislabeled. “One bundle of black bear burgers was actually beaver, two packages of pricey bison burgers and one package of expensive yak burgers were plain old domestic cattle, and a container labeled as pheasant was helmeted guinea fowl,” TakePart explains.
Two of the ground meat products also contained horsemeat, which is illegal to sell in the U.S.
These findings are indicative of a flawed industry that not only misrepresents products, but also does so often rather discreetly. In 2012, an ABC News investigation revealed to the nation a product dubbed “pink slime” a controversial meat by-product that the investigation revealed was in nearly 70 percent of ground beef products in the U.S. at the time. In 2013, a horsemeat contamination scandal rocked the European Union after an investigation found undeclared horsemeat in beef products.
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