In northern Italy, horse meat is used to make pastissada de caval, a rich, hearty stew ("caval" is Italian for horse). In Japan, horse meat, or basashi, is sliced thin and eaten raw. Horse is also the basis for many dishes in Kazakhstan, Indonesia and Mongolia.
The meat is leaner than beef or pork, so it needs a shorter cooking time to avoid dryness. It's also high in iron and omega-3 fatty acids, according to KQED, a public radio and TV station. Nonetheless, horses aren't considered food in many countries, including much of China, North America and the British Isles. [7 Perfect Survival Foods]
Some critics responding to the scandal in the U.K. over horse meat have sounded the alarm about contaminants that might be present in the meat, such as the drug phenylbutazone, or "bute," according to PulseToday.
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Bute is an anti-inflammatory painkiller that has been used in the treatment of musculoskeletal disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis in dogs and horses. It has been banned from use in humans, as some people have had adverse reactions to the drug, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). "As phenylbutazone can cause severe toxic reactions, it was also banned from use in food-producing animals as it is unclear whether there is a 'safe' level of the drug," according to a statement by the NIH.