Should U.S. consumers worry about finding horse meat in their food? Over in Europe, from Ireland to the Netherlands, there's been a horse meat scandal brewing over the last month. The issue has developed into a full-blown crisis, with some pointing to an "international criminal conspiracy to pass off cheap horse meat as more expensive beef." Reports have discovered that everything from plain old horse meat to a potentially deadly equine drug have entered the food chain.
Traces of horse have been discovered in hamburgers and lasagna; yesterday, the Switzerland-based Nestle had to pull a beef pasta item off of shelves throughout the Continent after tests discovered traces of horse DNA in the product. After years of inadequate testing measures, labs all over Europe are now inundated with samples. And it looks like it's only the beginning: British legislator Anne McIntosh recently told Reuters that "more revelations will doubtless come to light in the UK and across the European Union."
Horse slaughtering for human consumption has been legal in America for two years (even though it remains unpopular), so are U.S. chains vulnerable to the kind of mass fraud and deception that caused the European scandal? Burger King in the UK, for example, had to stop buying beef from an Irish supplier implicated in the crisis (according to the chain, it was a precautionary measure and there was no evidence to suggest they had ever served horse meat). To check, Eater reached out to eleven major fast-casual chains in the U.S. to ask whether there's any risk of the problem spreading here. Most of them kindly and promptly obliged. Here, now, the PR arms of eleven chains, including McDonald's, Wendy's, and Applebee's, respond to our query on whether or not they serve horse meat.