Horsemeat scandal hits Mideast dishes

The hunt for undeclared horsemeat in food snagged a Vienna kebab stand on Thursday, dealing a blow to the savoury Middle Eastern dishes that are a popular Austrian snack. 

 Responding to a Europe-wide scandal that has triggered recalls of mislabelled products, health inspectors in Austria had already found covert horse flesh in a supermarket beef pasta dish and sausages from the southern province of Carinthia. 

 But the story hit home with the discovery of equine genetic material in a sample taken from a kebab stand, one of hundreds in the city that have added the Turkish import to their traditional offerings of sausages and leberkaese meat loaf. 

 The sample was found at a stand in Vienna's western Ottakring neighbourhood on a skewer which was supposed to hold only beef, veal and turkey, the Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety said. 

 Agriculture Minister Nikolaus Berlakovich promised a zero-tolerance approach to such consumer fraud and reiterated he would press for a "food passport" declaring the origins of ingredients in packaged dishes when his European Union counterparts meet next week. 

 Eating horsemeat is not taboo in Austria, where it is seen as a delicacy - especially in Vienna - but consumers are outraged at being misled about the sources of their food. 

 "Horsemeat is as much a part of Vienna as the Sachertorte," Margarete Gumprecht, head of a family business that specialises in the iron-rich treat, told Format magazine this month. 



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