Mystery Meat on Menu: Could it be Cat or Dog?

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In the aftermath of the European horsemeat scandal, a private investigation was launched in London that randomly tested the DNA of menu items being served as take-out across the city. But instead of finding just more horsemeat (which they did), the investigators stumbled upon a variety of dubiously mixed meat dishes, as well as a mystery meat.

The mystery meat dish in question, listed as a spicy lamb curry, turned out NOT to be lamb, but instead some unidentified substitute. It is definitely meat, but no one knows what type of meat - and the restaurant is not shedding any light on the matter. DNA analysis has now ruled out beef, chicken, pork, goat, horse and even human flesh. So what is left? Cat? Dog? Rat? Guinea Pig? Pigeon?

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This unsavory story (that is likely to create a new wave of vegetarians!) was recently unveiled in a BBC3 documentary, The Horsemeat Banquet. The show's spokesperson said, "just when you thought things couldn't get any worse, the results came in for an Indian lamb curry. At this moment, the lab has not been able to identify which animal this meat came from."

The documentary filmmakers made other grim discoveries such as:

A "beef burger" that contained no beef apart from blood and heart.

A black bean sauce "beef dish" that contained mainly chicken blood and scraps and very little detectable beef.

The only fast food that lived up to its name entirely was ironically the lamb doner kabab. In all tests this menu item was pure lamb.

The movie highlighted that horsemeat is more prevalent across Europe than previous thought. Out of 5,000 samples taken from English public school lunches, senior centers and restaurants, 44 came back positive for horsemeat.

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Earlier this year, in Ireland, a surprise DNA study showed that about one-third of "beef" burgers in the shamrock country contained at least trace amounts of horsemeat. Another product, France's Comigel beef lasagna, had zero beef and 100% horsemeat. The French company quickly blamed the "complex supply chain stretching from its Luxembourg factory to Dutch and Cypriot middlemen to Romanian horse butchers."

Hmmmm, maybe depending on "complex" supply chains is not a good idea in the first place. Your local farmers are starting to look a lot more appealing, aren't they?

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The so-called rogue meat scandal has resulted in European supermarkets scrambling to take popular brands - such as Nestle of Switzerland, and Bird's Eye of Britain- off the shelves, and restaurants, no doubt, are cleaning-up their act, at least temporarily.

As I write this article, I recall being in London last year and eating an Indian chicken dish that decidedly didn't taste like chicken. I wrote it off as being an "odd" chicken, but now looking back, it makes my stomach lurch to think about what I was eating. Combine mystery meat scandals with the scandalous way many cows, pigs, chickens and sheep are brutally commodified in the industrial food chain and it is truly a wonder that any of us comfortably consume meat at all. Personally, I still eat meat, but only a few times a week, and I try to stick with organic/free range and locally raised animals. Most days, my family is meat-free, but really, with the stomach lurching I am feeling now, I think it will be a while before we order a meat dish again.

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