Burger-loving Canadians can rest easy—Canada’s most popular frozen and fast food hamburger patties do not contain horsemeat, according to testing carried out by Ontario researchers.
Following reports from Europe of horsemeat found in hamburger patties and frozen lasagna, University of Guelph researchers at the Biodiversity Institute of Ontario (BIO) used advanced DNA testing to examine 15 sources of Canadian hamburger meat.
Six of the sources tested were cooked and nine frozen.
The six cooked hamburgers tested for DNA from horsemeat and other sources include A&W Mama Burger, Burger King’s Whopper, Dairy Queen’s FlameThrower, Harvey’s Original, McDonald’s Big Mac, and Wendy’s Bacon Double Cheeseburger. All were 100 percent beef.
The uncooked, frozen hamburger patties tested include Beef Steakettes (Schneiders), Lick’s Homeburgers, M&M Meat Shops Supreme Homestyle Beef Burgers, No Name Beef Burgers (Loblaws), Outlaw Beef Burgers (Schneiders), President’s Choice Thick and Juicy Beef Burgers, and Webers Beef Burgers.
Fresh lean ground beef in a tube (Better Beef -- Cargill) and Food Basics fresh lean ground beef were also tested.
Although the BIO has examined numerous products over the years and found multiple problems with mislabelling, all nine products tested for horsemeat passed as 100 percent beef.
The team also tested a kangaroo burger from the University of Guelph’s Brass Taps campus restaurant, and found the meat to be pure kangaroo.
This testing is something all Canadians should be proud of—knowing the hamburger meat they are buying is beef with no substitutes detected or additions.
— BIO director Paul Hebert
“This testing is something all Canadians should be proud of—knowing the hamburger meat they are buying is beef with no substitutes detected or additions,” BIO director Paul Hebert, Canada Research Chair in Molecular Biodiversity, said in a news release.
The DNA barcoding used in the testing is a molecular technique developed by Hebert, which allows scientists to match small DNA sequences from unknown specimens to those derived from expert-identified reference specimens.
Dirk Steinke, BIO’s director of education and outreach, said DNA barcoding may be used more frequently in examining products as the world market becomes increasingly integrated.
“It is likely that, as Canadian consumers hear reports from other countries, they will start to question the products they are purchasing,” said Steinke.
“DNA barcoding is something that can give shoppers confidence they are getting what they are paying for, and reassures retailers on what they are getting from their suppliers.”
Growing Scandal in Europe
Meanwhile, the scandal is ongoing in Europe as horsemeat continues to be found in products labelled 100 percent beef, such as burgers, frozen lasagna, and other convenience foods sold in Ireland, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and France.
The issue has affected the entire industry supply chain in Europe—from meat processors and food companies to major supermarket chains and restaurants—and raised questions of industry regulation, ethics, transparency, and responsibility to consumers.
“The contamination of beef products with horsemeat raises issues of false labelling, food quality, and traceability in the EU food chain,” says a Feb. 11 statement from the European Food Safety Authority.
As suspicions of criminal activity mount and after allegations that Romanian companies are involved in the scheme, Romania announced an inquiry into the issue on Feb. 9.
The growing scandal has led to supermarkets in several European countries removing frozen processed meals from their shelves.
Last week, Britain’s food safety regulator said some beef lasagne products that were recently recalled contained up to 100 percent horsemeat.
While it is not illegal to sell horsemeat in the U.K., eating it is largely considered taboo, and its presence in beef has upset many consumers. However, it is commonly eaten in countries such as France, Italy, Russia, and China.
Pig DNA is also being found in some beef products, which is of particular concern to Jews, who avoid eating pork. Jewish dietary laws also forbid the eating of horse meat.
The Epoch Times publishes in 35 countries and in 21 languages. Subscribe to our e-newsletter.