Could horse meat end up on your dinner table? - WSMV Channel 4

Could horse meat end up on your dinner table?

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With all the recent news about horse meat found oversees in everything from frozen products to IKEA meatballs and Taco Bell, some may wonder who is testing the meat in your freezer.

Channel 4 News contacted the corporate offices of the local grocery store chains, and while one said they rely on federal tests, the feds aren't testing for horse meat.

"They don't do any DNA testing to see if the products coming out of there are actually beef," said Jo-Claire Corcoran, with the Equine Welfare Alliance. "With the risk that there is, our government hasn't started testing anything yet."

Corcoran, the head of an anti-horse slaughter group, said the government ought be using DNA tests to see if horse meat is in the American food supply, especially because there is evidence that horse meat is being shipped through U.S. ports.

"We think it's entirely possible at this point, because we are importing beef from other countries," Corcoran said.

For example, the U.S. imports beef from Canada, where the same plants also process cows and horses.

Right now, horses can't be slaughtered or their meat sold in the U.S.

In the past year, the Channel 4 I-Team has shown a series of stories about a Lebanon, TN, company hauling horses to slaughter plants along the Mexico border.

The federal government says since horses aren't slaughtered in America, it's very unlikely horse meat makes its way to American dinner plates.

However, thousands of records we found are raising questions about the meat coming into U.S. ports, including cases where horse meat was imported into ports in New Jersey, Texas and California over an eight-month period.

The USDA told Channel 4 they understand the horse meat is simply transferred in those ports and not imported into the United States. However, they admit the U.S. imports meat from Mexico and Canada, where horse slaughter for meat is legal.

While horse meat is consumed in many countries around the world, opponents in America contend some horses are treated with drugs that should not be eaten by humans - especially race horses.

And with all the horse meat coming through U.S. ports, some wonder if companies can say for sure it is not unexpectedly ending up on someone's dinner table.

"We don't know where it went," Corcoran said.

Channel 4 polled six major grocery store chains to ask them if they use DNA tests on their meat, including shipments that come from oversees - for example, frozen foods from other countries.

A spokesperson from Publix said: "Publix does not do any DNA testing, except on a case-by-case basis."

The Aldi chain didn't answer our question about DNA testing but sent a statement, saying:

"The UK products in question are not sold in the U.S., and ALDI US does not source product from that supplier."

Kroger corporate spokesperson Melissa Eads said: "Kroger has stringent requirements for food safety and quality. We work with our trusted suppliers to assure the authenticity of beef products supplied to Kroger."

We posed the same question to Harris-Teeter, Whole Foods, Sam's and Walmart about how they test their meat, but they have not yet responded.

The Tennessee Department of Agriculture said it's not their agency's jurisdiction to check the content of meat sold in the state, rather that rests with the USDA.

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