Published on February 7, 2014 | by Lucy Mercer

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East London Restaurant Puts Horsemeat On The Menu

B is for Burger – Psychic Burger

We all remember the horsemeat scandal in the supermarkets, and people’s horrified reactions to being told they’ve probably eaten it at some point without knowing. But a restaurant in Dalston is truly testing whether people’s disgust was down to being lied to, or the meat itself.

Will Dennard is the Head Chef at Psychic Burger, and told me about his passion for discovering flavours and trying new things. He said, “I first had horsemeat when I was about thirteen in France on holiday. I didn’t understand what was on the menu, and my dad told me it meant horse. I thought, why not? It was delicious.”

“Horse is a very lean meat – there’s not much fat on it at all. It’s full of protein, fibrous, low in fat and is very good for you.”

Whether members of the public share this view is another story – but you may be surprised to hear that quite a few people are up for trying it. Even a couple of veggies I ran into said, “At the end of the day, there shouldn’t be any difference between horse and cow meat – they’re both animals.” Although there were a few sceptics, a lot of people said they’d be willing to try it as long as it was advertised correctly.

But one person who was against the idea was Dalston resident, Verity. She said, “As a vegetarian, I have quite a few issues with meat anyway, but horses especially. I used to go riding a lot when I was younger, and I feel like horses have personalities. It’s disgusting.”

British culture doesn’t see us eating much in the way of ‘different’ meat – what we class as different is perfectly normal to other countries. But if Will can convince people to start eating horse, it could be the beginning of a culture change in British food.

Fancy saddling up to try it? Check out Psychic Burger’s website here.

Have a listen to LCC’s radio piece on the story below.

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3 Responses to East London Restaurant Puts Horsemeat On The Menu

  1. There is a HUGE difference between beef and horse, and for the chef to not know it—and the public to be in the dark about it—means food safety issues for anyone eating his burgers. Unless the chef has personally raised the horses from birth to slaughter as food animals, what he’s serving are horses that are slaughtered for meat raised and drugged as sport, work and companion animals. These all legally ingest meds that are banned in the food chain. Would some foodie, somewhere, please spend some time with a racetrack vet and ask them about bute, Banamine, Clenbuterol, Regu-mate, Ivermectin, and the entire list of 118 drugs found in horse meat that are BANNED in food animals because they cause, among other things, fatal disorders, including cancer? Please people, don’t be so naive! Ask the chef for proof of origin of these horses, where raised, vet records, etc. I bet you a tray or burgers, he does not know, hasn’t checked. And this is advertised as a “fully traceable and ethically sourced 100% horse meat”. Proof, please!

  2. William Dennard says:

    Many thanks Ms Eckhoff for voicing your concerns. A little healthy debate raised by my decision to put horsemeat on my menu was one of my aims.

    I must first start off and congratulate you on such advanced research and subsequent fact regurgitation of the details of the recent horsemeat scandal. Your knowledge of the legal drugs and raising practices of said horses is very accurate and precise. I must however correct your very Daily Mail-esque assumption that all horsemeat is of the same standard.

    As a ‘foodie’ (who is very active in assuring consumer and companies in sustainability and ethics regarding ingredients) I must inform you that I have access to all of the animals ‘passports’ ( I’m sure you know about these as you must have done some online Wikipedia research prior to your comment) and that the horses I used in my product were raised free range on a large purpose built ranch in New Zealand. They are not pumped full of chemicals and they lead a happy and fulfilled life, this same farm also supplies to many high end establishments in Italy and France.

    I would love to invite you down to try one, but I’m afraid I sold out after only 4 days as many open minded customers wanted to try a product that other parts of Europe have had on their menus and celebrated for many years.

    So until they come back onto my menu at some point I will leave you to be constantly hoodwinked by many labels and supermarket chains in regards to ‘organic’ ‘local’ and ‘free range’ and you can remain on your high horse (excuse the pun) until another scandal is unveiled and you realise the £8 free range organic chicken you so proudly buy once a week is revealed to be 98% Romanian Pigeon.

    • Mr. Dennard,

      I am a journalist, which means I indeed do research. 22 articles on Forbes.com, and my Newsweek article on the drugs in horse meat was cited by MP Alex Atamenenko in his recent introduction of a new law in Canada precisely on the topic we’re now discussing: that is, the inability of Canada, one of the world’s largest suppliers of horse meat to the EU, to keep drugged horses from the U.S. (and from Canada) out of the supply chain. Is New Zealand able to do what Canada and other major suppliers of horse meat have not? What can you offer here, to help your customers understand this issue?

      I used to promote food coverage for the New York Times (Mark Bittman, Nigella Lawson, etc.) and was a food writer. I know more about your business than you think. So your references to Wikipedia are very cute, and I’m guessing that’s where you learned about horse meat, yourself?

      Really, you can get your hands on the passports (which are the property of the governing food agencies) for every horse? Can you get them from the New Zealand authorities? Why don’t you scan one and show us? Better yet, post one in the window of your establishment. I’m wondering how you will know, by the way, since a burger is generally a mix of meats and fat from different animals (yes, I know a USDA veterinarian). Unless you imported a carcass and ground the meat yourself, you would never know the identify of the horse you’re serving. (and PS: only the slaughter houses can identify the carcasses, post mortem. Do you have a pal at New Zealand’s one slaughterhouse willing to share these with you? Isn’t that a violation of the law?)

      That said, what is the name of your New Zealand horse meat supplier? Let’s take a look, shall we? Make sure they’re not sending you ground racehorse and calling it “free-range”. That claim is such a sham, isn’t it?

      Range free on a purpose-built range in New Zealand? Are they feral? Raised for slaughter? Are you aware that that kind of horse meat would be more expensive to produce than grass-fed beef? The reason being that it takes horses far longer to put on weight than cattle. Are you charging more for your delicacies than your other burgers?

      I understand your posing the question was a publicity stunt. Let’s see how knowledgable—and transparent—you really are about what you’re serving.

      FYI: I’ve heard all the same excuses from chefs in the U.S. They all thought they know what was in horse meat. When they found out, it was off the menu.

      Bon appetit.

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