The discovery of horsemeat disguised as beef has kicked off a crisis in the UK.

The crisis began when Findus, a multinational company with its headquarters in London, was found to have put 100 per cent horsemeat in its frozen beef lasagna.

The scandal has spread across Europe, with French and Swedish retailers removing products from their shelves.

A race is on to discover the source of what one British minister called a “criminal conspiracy”.

British Prime Minister David Cameron vowed the “full intervention of the law” where food companies were found to be deceiving consumers. At least two UK plants have been raided already.

In France, Consumer Affairs Minister Benoit Hamon said that authorities would not hesitate to take legal action if evidence of deliberate wrongdoing could be found.

The Food Standards Agency, the British foods regulator, said that the traceability within the UK’s food supply chain was “very good”. But the FSA and UK politicians have nevertheless faced fierce criticism for their failure to prevent this flouting of regulation.

 

Despite the enormous media attention and sharp political reaction, some British people are not too fussed. They question the rationality of eating pigs, cows and sheep but not horses. Other countries eat horsemeat too, they argue.

 

Rising costs of food has been cited as one possible explanation for why horsemeat was disguised as beef. Commodity prices globally have been on the rise the past decade. The cost of producing beef has increased and producers are searching for means of reducing these costs.