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Animal right group created controversy over horsemeat consumption

Survey researchers see no problem

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

WAGENINGEN – A Dutch animal rights group shocked the national and international media with news that one-third of all Dutch snacks contain horsemeat. The controversy was generated by a Wageningen University survey commissioned for Wakker Dier, an activist group which opposes what it describes as factory farming. The students who conducted the survey do not really understand why so many are up in arms about the consumption of horsemeat. They prefer it over other sorts of meat.

Wakker Dier claims many people regard horses as family friends and therefore refuse to eat their meat. People often consume horsemeat unawares in, for example, deep-fried snacks. To gain better understanding of the issue, Wakker Dier requested an independent report on the matter. Researchers examined the ingredients listed on the packaging of 286 types of meat snacks. They discovered that horsemeat was listed as an ingredient in 32 percent of all the snacks.

After publishing its findings, Wakker Dier posted it also on its website, ‘check je snack’, where consumers can check out which brands to avoid if they do not want to eat horsemeat.

All the same, the students were not shocked by the results of the survey since Dutch consumption of horsemeat has dropped steadily. Fifteen years ago the Dutch ate 1.4 kilograms of it per person each year, a statistic which currently is 0.6 kilograms.

According to the students, Wakker Dier has used the survey to shock people. They do not see a problem, however, since horses generally have a better life than pigs and cattle. Horsemeat is healthier, is much leaner and contains plenty of iron.

Surprisingly, Wakker Dier says it does not oppose consuming horsemeat in principle. They want people to accurately know where the meat comes from. The group says it never was able to get the answers until they received their report.