One of the biggest companies to find horsemeat in their products was Findus UK and they actually found some of their products were 100% horsemeat.
Jackie: Consumer confidence in the UK has recently been shattered by the revelation that many products that are meant to have beef in them do have in fact, horsemeat. So for this week's podcastsinenglish.com business podcast, we're looking at the horsemeat scandal. Okay then Richard, so what's wrong with eating horsemeat? The French do it all the time.
Richard: Yes, but in the UK it's a big issue. People in the UK do not eat horsemeat.
Jackie: But there's more to it than that.
Richard: Yes, well obviously there's a cultural side of things, there's a health side of things as well: is... is the meat suitable for human consumption? And thirdly, obviously, it's fraud. It says it's beef on the packet but in actual fact it's horsemeat.
Jackie: So how did the... how did the scandal start, Richard? How did we... how did we find out that there was horsemeat in burgers?
Richard: Well, at the beginning of January, the Food Safety Authority of Ireland found traces of horsemeat in their beef burgers, as much as 29% .
Jackie: So if the Irish hadn't found horsemeat in their burgers no one in the UK would have been any wiser?
Richard: Exactly. Since 2009 the budgets for Public Sector Trading Standards and Environmental Health, which is what they call it in the UK, have been cut by a third.
Jackie: So you mean there are less inspectors and things.
Richard: Exactly. And the last government testing for horsemeat in animal products took place in 2003.
Jackie: But that's 10 years ago.
Jackie: So Richard, where has this horsemeat come from?
Richard: Well, one of the biggest companies to find horsemeat in their products was Findus UK and they actually found some of their products were 100% horsemeat.
Jackie: So all the meat was horsemeat! That's amazing.
Richard: Yes, and you asked where it came from. Well, they traced their horsemeat and they said it originally came from a French factory based in Luxembourg.
Richard: However, that meat actually came from another company in south western France.
Richard: [laughs] It goes on. This company had acquired the meat from a Cypriot trader who in turn had subcontracted the order from a trader in the Netherlands and that organisation was supplied from an abattoir and butcher located in Romania!
Jackie: Did I get that right you had six countries in that list?
Jackie: But somewhere along the line, Richard, people should have noticed that this was horsemeat and not beef.
Richard: Well, they transported [it] in the EU [where] there's a free circulation of goods and what they think is, that there was a mafia involvement and the mafia were paying off the abattoirs and food inspectors in order to pass the horsemeat off as beef.
Jackie: This is full scale criminal activity we're talking about here.
Richard: Well yes, I've talked about the cultural side of things in the UK um... but yes, the main issue is fraud because, basically, people in the UK are buying things which say it's beef and in actual fact it's horsemeat. It's been mislabelled so that is fraudulent activity.
Jackie: So is anyone benefiting from this, Richard?
Richard: [laughs] Well, definitely er... the butchers in the UK. Because they're on the decline, people are buying food from supermarkets cos it's very cheap but now the butchers are getting a lot more customers.
Jackie: There's an increase in demand.
Jackie: And it might encourage more people, Richard, to do some home cooking as well, that can only be a good thing.