Taco Bell joins Europe's horse meat parade

Tainted beef has been found in the chain's UK meat supplies as continuing discoveries take a toll on overall hamburger meat sales.

By Jason Notte Mar 1, 2013 2:15PM
Taco Bell restaurant in Richmond, Virginia (© Steve Helber/AP Photo)You could have grandstand seats for this year's Triple Crown and Breeder's Cup races and still not see as much horse as what's passing through Europe's food supply right now.

First Burger King (BKW) found traces of horse DNA in its British Whoppers. Then Wal-Mart (WMT) subsidiary Asda was forced to pull jars of beef bolognese off its shelves after discovering they contained horse meat. It was also found in Nestlé (NSRGY) pasta products. Then in Ikea's meatballs and sausages.

Now you can add Yum Brands' (YUM) Taco Bell to the mix. Britain's Food Standards agency spotted trace amounts of horse meat in Taco Bell's ground beef used throughout the U.K., according to The BBC. Taco Bell issued a statement saying it's conducting tests on its own, but it has pulled back all its stock of beef from the European plant that supplied the tainted batch.

If other U.K.-based beef-selling chains and supermarkets aren't conducting similar internal testing, now would be a fine time to consider it. Debate about the moral and cultural implications of eating horse aside, the mislabeling of food from fish to donkey meat is costing companies far more than cutting corners likely saved them.

According to market research firm Kantar, frozen hamburger sales in the U.K. have dropped 43% since the horse meat scandal broke. Wal-Mart's sales also took a hit after its stores pulled tainted products.

So how's all this playing in the U.S.? No horse meat has been found here yet, but that could have something to do with Americans eating a whole lot less beef, the soaring price of that beef and the size of the nation's cattle herd dropping to its smallest since 1952.

Meanwhile, the The New York Times reports that the U.S. Department of Agriculture is about to approve a horse-slaughtering plant in New Mexico, despite objections from President Barack Obama's administration and the Humane Society. Once approved, it will be the first time horse meat suitable for human consumption has been produced here since 2007.

Don't worry, Americans: You may get your chance to do a spit take with undeclared horse meat soon enough.

More on moneyNOW

Mar 1, 2013 3:43PM
Instead of running for the border, you can now gallop.
Mar 1, 2013 3:40PM
I'm surprised Taco Bell uses meat of any kind.
Mar 1, 2013 3:28PM

Well this offically makes me never want to eat fast food ever again....

Mar 1, 2013 3:13PM
Announcing...the BK Trigger Whopper!  Mickey D's Clydesdale McNuggets!  And...KFC's Popcorn Pinto!
Mar 1, 2013 3:57PM
Many animals that are eaten on a regular basis are considered intelligent.  It is just a cultural definition that tells us what is o.k. to eat and what is not.  Many southeastern Asian countries regularly eat certain breeds of dog.  In India it is taboo to eat beef.  We name these things different in our culture in order to disassociate ourselves with the actual animal.  Just give horse meat another name and people won't even care. Cow=beef, Pig=pork, Deer=venison, and so on.  It is extremely ethnocentric to say it is disgusting.  If you don't like the taste that is fine, but don't be too quick to judge.
Mar 1, 2013 3:27PM
Mar 1, 2013 3:50PM

In related news...


India issues shocking information that "tainted BK horse hamburgers have cow meat in them."


Stunned, most Bombay locals have ceased consuming hamburgers at BK, until official word that cow meat has been removed from hamburgers and horse meat returns as the primary protein.





Mar 1, 2013 3:11PM
Mar 1, 2013 3:37PM

Is this what they meant by 'think outside the bun' ?


Well, at least there's some sort of meat in there....

Mar 1, 2013 3:00PM

Mr. Ed Taco Co.    Whodathunkit


Mar 1, 2013 3:13PM
I dont know, but we Americans don't eat horse
Mar 1, 2013 3:17PM
IS there "pink slime" in it like the US burger meat !
Mar 1, 2013 2:43PM
It wasn't burro meat!!! I'm shocked!!!
Mar 1, 2013 3:09PM
Mar 1, 2013 3:50PM

Who gets to decide its ok to eat a cow and not a horse? And what is used to make the decision, looks ,brain size, stuffed animals one had as a kid  ?  How can an animal rights agencies fine or put a person in jail for mistreating a food source.

 If you can safely eat it, then eat it . World hunger solved !

Mar 1, 2013 3:51PM
Mar 1, 2013 3:54PM
america if you only knew what you are already eatting.
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