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The Weekly News Source for Wyoming's Ranchers, Farmers and AgriBusiness Community

What? It’s What’s For Dinner

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

Earlier this week, I received a call from a local TV station asking if they could interview me or if I knew someone they could visit with on the issue of Europeans finding horsemeat in their hamburger and if that could happen here in America?  “Whoa, hang on there,” I quickly said, thinking that this must be a slow news day.

One has to realize that at your local TV stations, once a day or so, the news director gathers the news staff together and gives them their assignments for the day. I’ve found out that most TV news staff doesn’t stay around long, so they really don’t know the issues here in Wyoming, and they don’t understand agriculture in general. That is ok – they are young and just need a chance. They are earnest, want to do their job the best they can, and dream of ending up with Fox News or NBC. But while they are here, they have trouble pronouncing places like Absaroka or Popo Agie – along with myself and spell check – and understanding ag or diseases like brucellosis.

We have to want to help them. I remember when brucellosis was big news in the state, so they would call me up for an interview on the subject. When they got here, I would ask them if they knew what questions they should ask. Four out of five times they would lower their eyes and admit, no, they didn’t know where to start. It’s understandable, as you can’t know everything about everything, but it’s also something to be aware of when talking to the media.

But back to the issue today, horsemeat in the beef supply. I realized this was an issue that didn’t need to get out of hand and quickly pointed them towards the Wyoming Beef Council for official statements. I did tell him that horse slaughter and hamburger processing are two totally different subjects in the U.S., and that if consumers buy hamburger at the meat counter, it would be pure beef – no questions about it.

I had to read up on the issue in Europe and realized they do have a problem.  As we know, the culture of some European countries allows horsemeat for human consumption. In past times in America, horsemeat was eaten, even at one of the Harvard University cafeterias, and in Wyoming, we all heard that horse meat was eaten on the roundups of the big horse outfits like the CBC right after the turn of the 20th century.

Europe’s problem is evident after they started testing meat samples. In one test, 10 out of 27 beef burgers tested were found to contain horse DNA, and 23 of the 27 burgers tested were also found to contain pig DNA – which is a no-no for some religions. I’ve read that the more they test, the more they find.

One European meat processor claimed that everyone wants pure, high quality meat, but doesn’t want to spend much money on it. He said, “Generally people say, ‘I don’t have time to cook anymore,’ and I say, ‘Well, you have the time to watch people cooking on television’.”  

Good point. Those Europeans just need more Wyoming and American beef.  


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