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The New York Times reports that even as Europe deal with a horse meat scandal, discovering traces of it in meat that was labeled as 100 percent beef, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) "is likely to approve a horse slaughtering plant in New Mexico in the next two months, which would allow equine meat suitable for human consumption to be produced in the United States for the first time since 2007."

According to the story, "The plant, in Roswell, N.M., is owned by Valley Meat Company, which sued the USDA and its Food Safety and Inspection Service last fall over the lack of inspection services for horses going to slaughter. Horse meat cannot be processed for human consumption in the United States without inspection by the USDA, so horses destined for that purpose have been shipped to places like Mexico and Canada for slaughter."

The story goes on to note that "the impending approval comes amid growing concern among American consumers that horse meat will somehow make its way into ground beef products in the United States as it has done in Europe. Major companies, including Tesco, Nestlé and Ikea, have had to pull food from shelves in 14 countries after tests showed that products labeled 100 percent beef actually contained small amounts of horse meat. Horse meat is not necessarily unsafe, and in some countries, it is popular. But some opponents of horse slaughtering say consumption of horse meat is ill-advised because of the use of various kinds of drugs in horses."

Meanwhile, Reuters reports that in the UK, Taco Bell has discovered that there is horse meat in some of the ground beef it has been serving at its three restaurants there. Yum Brands, the parent company, said it would improve its inspection processes in the UK in response to the finding.

According to the story, Yum Brands already had been "grappling with a food safety scare in China ... On Monday, Yum said it would stop using more than 1,000 poultry slaughterhouses in China as it moves to tighten food safety and reverse a sharp drop in business at KFC restaurants in its top market after a scare over contaminated chicken."

Reuters also reports that "Britain's Food Standards Agency (FSA) said on Friday it had conducted 1,797 tests over the last seven days. More than 99 percent of the readings came back negative for horsemeat levels at or above 1 percent. However, four tests were positive, it said. They were for Taco Bell ground beef, beef skewers made by catering company Brakes, and two types of Birds Eye ready meals - spaghetti bolognese and beef lasagne."
KC's View:
Could have been worse for Yum in the UK. Could have been the remains of that little chihuahua that they found ground up in the taco meat...

Though let's be honest here. Is anyone really surprised that the meat being served in Taco Bell tacos isn't all-beef? Frankly, I would have been more surprised by a finding that it was actually 100 percent beef.

Can you imagine the commercials, as the disembodied voice of the slaughtered chihuahua comes from the grave: "¡Yo quiero caballo!"

As for the US developments, isn't it just perfect that the plant suing for the right to slaughter horses is in Roswell, New Mexico ... which is one of the places synonymous with the notion of government conspiracy? I mean, how do we know those are really horses they are slaughtering? And we'd never know, because how do you test for alien DNA?