Taco Bell horse meat tacos are not on the menu, but that is exactly what the fast food chain may have been recently serving to some unsuspecting customers. An inspection of the company’s three restaurants turned up the unapproved meat additive.
News of the horse feat infused tacos arrives just as Taco Bell owner Yum Brands Inc. continues to grapple with food safety concerns in China.
Following the inspection, Taco Bell was quick to point out that only its UK market has been affected. The company has promised to step up testing of its beef to avoid further issues in the future.
Testing for horse meat has become standard practice throughout parts of Europe after a horsemeat scandal broke out in Ireland this past January. After the initial discovery was made, various popular brands throughout Europe were discovered to contain higher than allowed percentages of equine meat.
While more horsemeat has been discovered in food products, Britain’s Food Standards Agency (FSA) said on Friday that 99 percent of its 1,797 tests over the last seven days have revealed less than one percent equine meat.
Four failed tests were discovered including Taco Bell’s ground beef, Brakes (a catering company) beef skewers, and the Birds Eye ready meals brand, which was contaminated via its spaghetti bolognese and beef lasagne products.
Birds Eye pulled those products last week after horse meat was discovered in its Belgium supply line.
On a positive note, none of the horse meat discovered to date has contained the veterinary medicine phenylbutazone (bute), a substance that is harmful to humans.
Taco Bell UK spokesman Christopher Fuller said in a statement:
“Based on that testing we learned ingredients supplied to us from one supplier in Europe tested positive for horsemeat. We immediately withdrew it from sale, discontinued purchase of that meat and contacted the FSA with this information.”
Taco Bell has not determined if horse meat based ground beef was served to any customers.
To avoid future contamination, Taco Bell will now test every back of ground beef when it arrives for processing and before it goes out to restaurants.
The company issues a simple apology:
“We apologize to our customers and take this matter very seriously.”
The American hamburger chain Burger King was also found in possession of “trace amounts” of horsemeat in his hamburgers during a test in Ireland this past January. Burger King caught the mistake before any meat was shipped to its various fast food locations.
Do you think the Taco Bell horse meat discovery will ultimately hurt the fast food chains credibility and bottom line?