The British (and much of the EU) are freaking out over this horse meat scandal, which has only grown in intensity since it was revealed that instead of just trace amounts of equine meat in frozen food manufacturer Findus' Lasagna products, it was, er, pretty much all horse.
Besides the problem of misleading packaging (instead of "Beef Lasagna," they should have labeled it "Horse Lasagna"), and the possibility of ingesting the toxic horse drug phenylbutazone, what's the big deal about eating horse? People eat pretty much everything else. The outrage seems to be a matter of European tastes. Al Jazeera delightfully describes it this way:
"Britons generally do not eat horse meat, regarding its consumption as a quirk of French appetites."
The New York Times observed that, "Few things divide British eating habits from those of continental Europe as much as a distaste for consuming horse meat."
But why not eat horses? Are they too noble for our stomachs? Foreign Policy directs us to the Nobel Prize-winning work of Economist Alvin Roth, who explored the disgust different cultures have for perfectly edible meats in his 2007 paper, "Repugnance as a Constraint on Markets":
Why can't you eat horse or dog meat in a restaurant in California, a state with a population that hails from all over the world, including some places where such meals are appreciated? The answer is that many Californians not only don't wish to eat horses or dogs themselves, but find it repugnant that anyone else should do so, and they enacted this repugnance into California law by referendum in 1998.
Last year, the Obama administration lifted a five year ban on horse slaughter, with PETA's support, after recognizing that the ban wasn't stopping horses from being killed — it was simply subjecting them to a horrible trip outside of US borders, where they would then be slaughtered and eaten.
Still, Americans have not yet warmed to the idea of eating horse. Because Americans see horses as companions, and not food, it seems we're stuck with our regular assortment of meat products, which include, but are not limited to,
pig intestines whatever is in pink slime.