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How to Know If You’re Eating Horse Meat

Labs use two tests to tell horse meat from beef, but the human palate is not so discerning
How to Know If You???re Eating Horse Meat
Photograph by Paula Thomas/Getty Images

Staid eaters, the kosher, and equestrians should heed the following guidelines during their continental tours: Limit your intake of frozen lasagna, resist Ikea’s Köttbullar, and maybe go for a butty instead of a burger when you hit the U.K. Actually, any euro tourists who feel a little squeamish over cheval might want to stick to fish, at least until testing labs inundated with samples get through their backlogs.

Meat-testing labs, contracted by food-processing companies that can’t wait around for someone to choke on a shard of hoof, check for horse meat contamination by looking for either horse proteins or horse DNA. In the protein-based method, the labs add suspect meat to a solution containing horse-specific antibodies; if there’s at least 1 percent to 2 percent horse protein in there, it will stick to the antibodies, and the test will come up positive.