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Taco Bell No Longer 100% Beef, Horsemeat DNA Found in UK

Update Date: Mar 02, 2013 01:35 PM EST

With the discovery of horsemeat throughout Europe, Americans held their breaths when they heard that the beef from Taco Bell abroad also contained horsemeat.  Ever since the initial horsemeat discovery in Britain, horsemeat was also found in Ireland, Germany, Italy, Poland and the Czech Republic. The Britain's Food Standards Agency has been undergoing tests for most of the meat within the nation and the agency found that the local Taco Bell beef contained horse DNA. Taco Bell in the United Kingdom, who advertises its meat as 100% beef, stopped selling its beef products.

Taco Bell has released a statement that there are no traces of horsemeat in American stores since the meat suppliers are different.  It is still unclear how horsemeat got into European meat sources but since the United States has not imported any beef traced with horsemeat from any European countries, the products in the U.S. are safe.

Horsemeat is currently illegal in the U.S. There are no slaughterhouses for horses and the Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) regulates imported meat to make sure that horsemeat does not enter the U.S. However, some companies from Missouri and New Mexico are trying to get the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) approval to open horse slaughter plants.

"For Imported products, [the U.S.] conducts port-of-entry re-inspections of all products offered for import into the United States, which provides evidence of how the foreign country's inspection system is performing. FSIS conducts on-site food regulatory system audits at least once every three years in every country that exports meat, poultry, or egg product," said Catherine Cochran, who works with the Department of Agriculture's Food Safety Inspection Services. The USDA and the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) do not require genetic testing. But any mislabeling of foods in general would have legal ramifications.

Horsemeat is not deadly and is actually widely eaten in Europe and China. The U.S. chooses not to eat horsemeat because animal rights groups have repeatedly expressed their concerns over the lack of information regarding how horses are raised and whether or not they will be safe enough to eat. 

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