Donkey and Water Buffalo Meat Found in South Africa

The horse meat scandal in Europe has gone global. Earlier this week, Swedish mega-retailer Ikea announced that it was withdrawing sales of Swedish meatballs in Thailand, Hong Kong and the Dominican Republic after finding horse meat in these. Ikea will also stop selling sausage which were also found to contain horse meat (traced to a Swedish supplier, Familjen Dafgard) in the U.K., France, Ireland, Portugal and Spain. Russia has found horse meat in sausages from Austria.

Now, in South Africa, other types of meat, including donkey, are being found in packages labeled to contain beef.

Scientists from South Africa’s Stellenbosch University say that “species which were not declared on the product label” comprised 68 percent of the 139 minced meats, burger patties, deli meats, sausages and dried meats that they tested. Specifically, the scientists found soy, gluten, chicken and pork in products labeled as something else, as well as “unconventional species” including donkey, goat and water buffalo meat.

“Our findings raise significant concern on the functioning of the meat supply chain in South Africa,” says Prof. Louw Hoffman of the Stellenbosch University Department of Animal Sciences. While “local regulations” to protect consumers do exist, they are clearly not being observed or enforced.

The meat products tested came from supermarkets, butcher shops and other retail outlets. Burgers, lunch meats and sausages were the most commonly mislabeled.

Shoprite Holdings, the biggest food retailer in Africa, states that it runs routine DNA tests on the products in its meat departments. A spokesman for South African’s health department, Maja Popo, told Bloomberg that an investigation would focus not so much on retailers but on slaughterhouses and meat processors.

Sales of frozen burgers in the U.K. have fallen as the scandal has dragged on and officials rush, or say they are rushing, to investigate. While local butchers have seen some increases in sales, farmers have found themselves “even angrier,” fearful that the scandal will result in more red tape and regulations for them to abide by while supermarkets and even food processing plants muddle their way through the uproar.

Some are shrugging and saying, what’s so bad about a little horse meat? It is a huge travesty that, all around the world, products are not accurately labeled, especially in regard to animals and meat. What if you have dietary restrictions about eating certain types of meat such as pork due to your religion?

I don’t eat meat and the whole horse meat (and now donkey, goat, water buffalo, etc. meat) scandal has given me yet another reason to be glad to be a vegetarian. As more discoveries of the wrong meat in the wrong package emerge, the 1906 novel “The Jungle” by Upton Sinclair seems worth a reread. In chapter 14, Sinclair includes a fairly stomach-turning account of a character working in a sausage factory: “For it was the custom … whenever meat was so spoiled that it could not be used for anything else, either to can it or else to chop it up into sausage.”

A century later, truth seems to be echoing, if not even imitating, fiction.

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Photo from Thinkstock


Jim Ven
Jim V10 months ago

thanks for sharing.

Carrie-Anne Brown

thanks for sharing

JL A4 years ago

all the more reason for supply chain accountability

Dale O.

Deborah H says: “To me, there is no difference between one animal and another because flesh is flesh.” Perhaps but fruit is fruit and if one eats a pineapple that has been hollowed out and replaced with the flesh of banana but labelled “pineapple” for the consumer…this is fraud even if it is filled with another fruit. A fruit is a fruit but if one wants pineapple, pays for it but gets banana the different fruit flesh is the issue. If beef is on the label but water buffalo is in the meat, this is fraud as well. You do agree that things must be labelled properly. Many consumers want real fruit but if stores in various countries refuse to label GMO, then many feel the wool has been pulled over their eyes by grocery stores and must buy organic to avoid this since GMO is hidden from the consumer, not labelled.

Dagmar B says that: “Eating a horse or donkey is no different from eating a cow or pig. Go veg!” Would you care for a course in basic biology, zoology, ethology? Don't wish to ‘Go veg,’ although much of what I eat are veggies. If I eat a carrot it is different than eating a beet or eating kohlrabi. They are all veggies but are all remarkably different. Different people, different preferences and mine also include small amounts of organic meat in my diet. Depending where one lives one often prefers different meat.

Frank S.
Past Member 4 years ago

Don't forget dessert...... a nice chilled bowl of monkey brains. I'll take seconds on that one.

Diane K.
Diane K4 years ago

Terrible meat! I can't believe it! If it's in So Africa, then who knows where else? Eeeew!

Joy Mcronald
Joy M4 years ago

Yuck, Yuck and Yuck!!!!!

janet stothers
janet stothers4 years ago


Barbara D.
Past Member 4 years ago

Of course, everything should be labeled correctly!
*What if you have dietary restrictions about eating certain types of meat such as pork due to your religion?*
This is a ridiculous statement. If you are not aware, you are not held responsible. It's not like it's going to make you sick because you inadvertantly broke a dietary law. In the Jewish faith, it would be a greater sin to offend your host rather than just eating the pork.

Carl Nielsen
Carl Nielsen4 years ago

Why would one use a pigs intestines for "calamari rings" (how can people not notice?) when they can be used for yummy susages.