Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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March 1, 2013

Q&A: Chances of a horse meat scandal in the US?

(Continued)

Q: So how can I be sure there's no horse meat in the product these large food companies are selling?

A: According to George Dunaif of the Grocery Manufacturers Association, which represents the nation's largest food companies, the industry takes a lot of steps to ensure the integrity of products. Suppliers must provide certificates showing that the products they are selling are labeled correctly and companies can demand certain standards. It's also illegal to sell misbranded food, and most brands depend on consumer trust for survival. A scandal like the one in Europe can ruin companies.

Q: What about fast-food restaurants that sell huge volumes of beef?

A: Burger King says it has conducted unannounced audits of all of its suppliers globally, including in the United States, to ensure their meat is 100 percent beef. The company says most of its U.S. restaurants use domestic suppliers but some of the meat is from Australia and New Zealand, and that meat has been DNA tested for horse meat. McDonald's said in a statement that the company "only works with a select group of approved beef suppliers that adhere to our stringent standards."

Q: Should I be worried?

A: No. There just isn't enough horse meat in the U.S. for it to make sense for meatpackers to illegally mix it in, and U.S. meat inspections in plants and checks at the border would most likely catch any large-scale scams.

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