Confirmed: Horse Meat Found In Ground Meat Products Sold On The U.S. Commercial Market

burgerpattiesFrom our friends at the Equine Welfare Alliance & The Wild Horse Freedom Federation:

A paper published in May by Chapman University reveals that 10 of 48 meat samples were labelled incorrectly.  Two of these samples included horsemeat.

Instances of mislabeling represent cases of food fraud, which may be a result of factors such as poor traceability,  accidental cross-contamination resulting from improper handling,  inadequate cleaning of equipment between species,  or intentional fraud carried out for reasons of financial gain.

From the study abstract:

“The objective of this study was to test a variety of ground meat products sold on the U.S. commercial market for the presence of potential mislabeling. Forty-eight ground meat samples were purchased from online and retail sources, including both supermarkets and specialty meat retailers. DNA was extracted from each sample in duplicate and tested using DNA barcoding of the cytochrome coxidase I (COI) gene. The resulting sequences were identified at the species level using the Barcode of Life Database.

Any samples that failed DNA barcoding went through repeat extraction and sequencing, and due to the possibility of a species mixture, they were tested with real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) targeting beef, chicken, lamb, turkey, pork and horse. Of the 48 samples analyzed in this study, 38 were labeled correctly and 10 were found to be mislabeled. Nine of the mislabeled samples were found to contain additional meat species based on real-time PCR, and one sample was mislabeled in its entirety. Interestingly, meat samples ordered from online specialty meat distributors had a higher rate of being mislabeled (35%) compared to samples purchased from a local butcher (18%) and samples purchased at local supermarkets (5.8%). Horsemeat, which is illegal to sell on the U.S. commercial market, was detected in two of the samples acquired from online specialty meat distributors.

Overall, the mislabeling detected in this study appears to be due to either intentional mixing of lower-cost meat species into higher cost products or unintentional mixing of meat species due to cross-contamination during processing.”

Additional links on the subject:



  1. It would be great to know who the specialty meat distributors are.

  2. Why is this bad? I mean yea – you’re not wanting to purchase horse when you buy beef, but it’s not like we’re finding puffer-fish meat in the beef. It’s not poisonous. It’s not even bad for you. The French eat it all the time and nobody bats an eye but suddenly Americans are getting Horse meat burgers and losing their freaking minds. OH NO – IT’S ILLEGAL?!?!?

    Why? Seriously – who freaking cares?

    1. actually it has poison in it when coming from many American horses. We use drugs on our horses that other countries do not. Those drugs are not meant for human consumption.

    2. Actually it is poisonous and very bad for us. European horses intended for slaughter are not given certain drugs, drugs we use all the time in America. For example: Phenylbutazone or ‘bute’ is a type of NSAID widely and commonly used in horses that is extremely damaging to humans. Equine dewormers are also deadly to us and are given to many horses as often as every 8 weeks. It is a very big deal far beyond just the morality and legality of the situation. It is NOT safe for consumption.

    3. Horse meat is generally cheaper than other types of meat. Therefore, it is food fraud to sell a cheaper meat in place of what is advertised. Other people have religious reasons to avoid certain types of meat. Typically horse people don’t want to eat horse meat either. It also represents poor cleanup practices in slaughterhouses – how hard can it be to finish processing one type of meat before moving onto the next? And if they can’t do that, how can they ensure hygiene?

  3. celine boucher · ·

    Keep up the good work and keeping us informed. Not new to your site but having a hard time finding who are the companies or labels of meats you are talking about. As a regular customer of meat buying I need names.

      1. celine boucher · ·

        Do you think we should expect some kind of meat recall to let the customers know.
        As much as I’ve been following the horse meat industry, its not in the realm of most people to think that their beef burgers might I have been laced with other meat. Knowing who it is might give consumer a better chance at making wiser decision…… or being better informed. How do we find out this information?

      2. Donikash · ·

        Did you send this report to Mary Ormsby at the Toronto Star?

  4. I’m surprised it took this long to find this but it seems that no one bothers to keep a check on just what is in ground meat in the US. The online sellers of meat products is where the horse meat turned up because I read the article yesterday which leads me to believe they are located outside the US possibly in Canada where horse meat is easily obtained. Horse meat can be ordered for private use if anyone is dumb enough to eat it.

  5. Not a surprize. Horse meat is dirt cheap compared to beef. Just a means of making more money.

  6. Kathleen Ryan · ·

    Thank you so much for putting this together and for ALL the work you do for the horses. God Bless You All !

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