Horse meat scandal

Last Updated on February 21, 2022 by Allison Price

It was discovered that horse meat was mistakenly labelled as beef in early 2013. This highlighted the fact that consumers have very little information about where their food is sourced.

Despite the fact that this scandal involved meat that had been deliberately mislabeled, we believe that many consumers are not well-informed about what they’re buying. The only positive aspect of this whole scandal was the fact that it brought to light the issue of horse meat trade, the need to improve laws protecting them, and the food chain, as well as the need for traceability and accountability.

As the success of free-range eggs shows, consumer choice can make a significant difference in animal welfare. Defra statistics indicate that half of all eggs produced in the UK come from free-range systems. Horse meat consumers in Europe are not getting the information they need to make informed choices and make a difference.

Legally, horse meat can be labeled as the product of the country from which it was raised. This means that meat from horses who have been transported thousands of miles and only spent a few hours in their final home country may appear to consumers to be local products. We know this because beef products are labeled in a more informative manner. The countries of origin, rearing, and slaughter are all shown.

Horse meat scandal

We will continue to demand change, even though the European Commission has decided not to introduce such changes for horsemeat at this time.

World Horse Welfare is a leader in challenging existing laws and working together with other horse sectors and the UK and EU governments to improve systems.


  • We made it clear to politicians and the general public that horse meat labeled as beef may be the result of long-distance horse journeys across Europe. We will continue to push the European Commission to end these unnecessary long-distance trips.
  • We have been pressing the European Commission to require horse meat to be labeled with its country of origin.
  • We call for stronger equine identification systems across Europe, including retro microchipping so that horses can be traced back through their passports.
Allison Price
Allison Price

I’m Allison, born and raised in San Diego California, the earliest memory I have with horses was at my grandfather’s farm. I used to sit at the stable as a kid and hang out with my Papa while he was training the horses. When I was invited to watch a horse riding competition, I got so fascinated with riding!