Local Meat Production Heavily Regulated By Government Officials - NBC4: Columbus, Ohio News, Weather, and Sports (WCMH-TV)

Local Meat Production Heavily Regulated By Government Officials

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With the most recent discovery of horse meat in Europe's food supply, many question whether it could happen in the United States.

European authorities announced, Monday, that they had detected horse meat in frozen meatballs that had been labeled as beef and pork that was being sold by IKEA in stores in 13 countries across the continent.

The Ohio Department of Agriculture says none of those meatballs are being sold in the United States because the federal government inspects all meat items served in U.S. IKEA locations.

At Ohio State University's Department of Animal Sciences, students learn about the meat process from start to finish.

Dr. Ron Kensinger with the Department of Animal Sciences at The Ohio State University says while ground beef and ground horse meat look almost identical, the industry is heavily monitored by the USDA.

"You have a federal inspector or a state inspector in every single meat slaughter or processing plant every day that production is occurring," says Erica Hawkins with the Ohio Department of Agriculture. It's in this licensed and inspected USDA meat facility that students learn the laws and regulations they must uphold.

"Horse slaughter for human consumption has been banned in this country for a very long time," Hawkins shares but in some other countries that hasn't always been the case.

Dr. Kensinger says that Europe's recent use of horse meat has affected the meat industry's integrity.

"If I tell you I'm selling you a ground beef patty, you have a right to know that I'm selling you ground beef," said Dr. Kensinger.

Dr. Kensinger says the use of horse meat has been banned in the United States because horses are considered to be a companion; but in some European countries, horse meat is sometimes considered a delicacy.

Hawkins says just not within the borders of the United States, "There are a lot less opportunities for something like this to get into the food supply in the U.S."

In Ohio, representatives from the Department of Agriculture say anyone with concerns about a meat product should contact them at 614-728-6260 or the USDA at 630-620-7474.

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