Editorial: Horse burger, anyone?

New Zealand's farm-export revenue, which accounts for about 13 per cent of total gross domestic product, is expected to be down 5 per cent this year.

Could horsemeat help the sector ride out the global economic crisis?

Horse is eaten in many countries, from Europe to South America to Asia.

In Belgium, horse meat is highly prized and used in steak tartare for its richer flavour.

The problem for some people, though, is that horses have been granted pet status across parts of the Western world.

Therefore, eating horse remains taboo, like eating dog.

In Ireland, a food-safety watchdog last week discovered traces of horse DNA in burger products sold by some of the country's biggest supermarkets, including a burger sold by global retailer Tesco that authorities said was made of roughly 30 per cent horse.

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland chief executive Professor Alan Reilly said it was not in the country's culture to eat horsemeat and, therefore, people should not expect to find it in a burger. The supermarkets in question, including Tesco, apologised and removed the products.

But officials said there was never any risk to human health.

The initial public outrage in Ireland cooled in a matter of days with Facebook and Twitter swamped by horse-burger jokes.

- "Tesco Burgers: low in fat, high in Shergar."

- "To eat Tesco burgers or not to eat Tesco burgers? That is equestrian."

- "Was there really horse meat found in Tesco burgers? Seriously, what are the odds on that?"

Reports of the unexpected burger ingredient broke last week as Blenheim was on the lookout for a missing horse.

One rumour suggested the animal had been sent to a meat factory.

It raises the question: how would people in New Zealand - a country where venison [deer] burgers are readily available - react to finding horse on the menu?

Would you happily throw a few horse burgers on the barbie?

The Marlborough Express