Wary public digests scandals over horsemeat, seafood mislabeling

Public officials in Europe are groping for an appropriate PR response to the horsemeat scandal rocking the continent, as food-mislabeling concerns hit the U.S.

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In the last month, there have been several huge misrepresentations about food products, starting with the ongoing horsemeat scandal in Europe, and continuing with the less egregious, but still concerning, fish mislabeling issue in the U.S. that hit the media this week.

To offer some context, it has been just over a year since the American public was roiled by the “pink slime” beef additive revelations, prompting all kinds of traditional and social media outcry, and resulting legislation.

But as loud as the criticism was for that issue, it pales in comparison to the horsemeat scandal sweeping Europe. In the last month, it’s spread from the discovery that 30 to 40 percent of meat content of hamburgers in Ireland was, in fact, horsemeat to horsemeat being found in beef products in Britain, Spain, Italy, and Germany.

Food processor giants are scrambling to explain the shocking news, weakly trying to pin the blame on far-flung suppliers. Even food conglomerate Nestlé said it had increased product testing after the horsemeat scandal, and admitted to finding traces of horse DNA in two beef products supplied by a German company. On Monday, news broke that horsemeat was discovered in meatballs sold at the furniture store IKEA in Europe.

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