Hoof-in-your-mouth disease

I read yesterday that the company IKEA was “withdrawing” one of their most popular food offerings from supermarkets in Sweden because they discovered traces of horse meat in the product. In racing terminology, horses are not “withdrawn,” they’re scratched. But no shopper wants to hear the phrase,“Effective immediately, we are scratching our Swedish meatballs.”

These treats have always been popular, especially at weddings, and now, with a dash of equine by-product in them, they will be a big hit at bridle showers, as well. I’m just warning you: that was not the last horrible pun in this article.

People around the world (many who dine on squirrel and monkey) are outraged at this development. It was bad enough when it was exposed last year that some fish sticks contained sea life other than the traditional cod. But now concern with Mrs. Paul may seem trivial, considering that Mr. Ed might now be in fast-food burgers.

I googled the controversy because it’s still a mystery to me how a horse can get into a food processing plant. Peanuts, I can understand. Any nut can get past those rent-a-cops at the door. But an entire horse? I discovered it’s more complicated than that. I found this explanation on the Internet: “Horse meat is butchered in Romania, and is sent through a Cyprus-registered trader to a warehouse in the Netherlands. Then a French meat wholesaler buys the meat, resells it to a frozen food processor under the Swedish-based Findus Co. and then they put it in their lasagna.”

People have been emailing and blogging about this. When another firm admitted it had discovered traces of the same ingredient in its frozen dinners, the tweeting really got going. Ironically, the company was Birds Eye. Here are some of my favorite comments…

Tried both beef tacos and horse tacos. Horse wins by a nose.

My friend ate it and was hospitalized. Condition: Stable

Ate too much. Gave me the trots.

Had terrible nightmares.

By the way, why is horse meat cheaper than beef? Aren’t horses harder to catch? Pork should be cheap, too. I could see why rabbit would be expensive. Kangaroo? Up and down in price.They should give turtle soup away. On cooking websites, there are hundreds of recipes for dishes that feature horse meat. A noted food critic who has sampled them all, says: “Most of the dishes are winners.” I’m no culinary expert, but I would think the losers would taste almost as good.