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2013 Horse Burger Scandal refers to the discovery of horse DNA in beef sold at several supermarkets in Ireland and Great Britain which became an international controversy after it was made public in January 2013.
On January 15th, 2013, The Irish Times published an article reporting that significant traces of horse and pig DNA had been found by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) in beef burgers sold in several Irish and British supermarket chains, including Tesco, Asda, Dunnes Stores, Lidl, Aldi and Iceland. The news came as a shock to many Irish and British residents, as horse meat is typically not consumed by the local populace.
On January 15th, 2013, Redditor MilkMan87 submitted a post about the FSAI findings to the /r/worldnews subreddit. Within two days, the post received over 12,000 up votes and 3,000 comments. On the following day, Redditor darraghd submitted a photograph to the /r/ireland subreddit, claiming that the Irish burger company Paddy Power was giving away free “horse burgers” in Dublin. Also on January 16th, jokes about the news story began appearing on Twitter with the hashtags “#horseburger,” “#horseburgergate” and “#horsepun,” including one tweeted by British politician John Prescott.
I see the Tesco horse burger is the mane news item on Twitter #horsepun
— John Prescott (@johnprescott) January 15, 2013
On January 17th, Redditor lollipopvampire submitted a rage comic to the f7u12 subreddit, which features Derpina coming to the realization that she may have eaten horse meat from the Tesco supermarket (shown below). Within 8 hours, the post received over 65 up votes and 10 comments.
News Media Coverage
On January 15th, several news sites published articles about the story, including The Independent, The Mirror,The Huffington Post, Bloomberg, The BBC and The Guardian. The following day, articles about the horse burgers were published in The Examiner, The Sun and Time. Also on January 16th, Inside Ireland reported that Irish politicians were calling for mandatory DNA tracing of processed meat products across Europe. Meanwhile, the Telegraph noted that the Tesco supermarket shares had fallen £300 million.
On 7 February 2013, Findus announced that in a sample of 18 beef lasagne products which it tested, 11 contained between 60% and 100% horse meat. The source of the horse meat was a third party supplier of Comigel, the producer of the lasagne. This has been the subject of talk currently in the British news and Findus have withdrawn their stock and on the 8th February, they had published a public apology on their website, also stating that they offer refunds for products purchased.
Example of internet reception:
Independent – Horse and pig DNA found in some supermarket burgers
The Irish Times – Horse DNA found in third of burger products surveyed
The Examiner – Horse meat discovered in beef burgers sold at Tesco
The Telegraph – Horse meat discovery knocks off Tesco market value
Food Safety Authority of Ireland – FSAI Survey Finds Horse DNA in Some Beef Burger Products