“There’s a Chinese restaurant on every block, and if you think mouths won’t water when you come strolling by, then you don’t know squat about Oriental cuisine. They prize the taste of dog, friend. The chefs round up strays and slaughter them in the alley right behind the kitchen—ten, twenty, thirty dogs a week. They might pass them off as ducks and pigs on the menu, but the in-crowd knows what’s what, the gourmets aren’t fooled for a second.” — Willy G. Christmas talking to Mr. Bones, his dog, from the novel Timbuktu, by Paul Auster
Europe is abuzz with the horsemeat scandal. After the Food Safety Authority of Ireland first discovered that a range of frozen beef products contained a large percentage of horse DNA, the story struck a viral nerve and spread like wildfire.
For consumers at the convoluted end of frozen food supply chains, the idea that you have been eating “Bessie” the horse probably comes as an emotional shock to the system. It is yet another nagging reminder of how distant we are from our original sources of food and how easy it is to be fooled by food appearances and masked tastes.
For the companies whose grocery store or packaged food brands are entangled in the horsemeat scandal, the damage to reputational interests can be profound. Affected companies took public relations repair action first and terminated supply chain contracts in a peremptory fashion. IKEA stopped serving its famous Swedish meatballs. Burger King changed to a different supplier of burgers. Tesco, a major European supermarket chain, dropped a major vendor after discovering its frozen spaghetti bolognese contained over 60% horsemeat.