Yesterday it was reported that 75 per cent of beef products exported to Ireland from Poland may not be beef but horse. The Food Standards Agency in the UK promises to make public from now on the results of its investigations into the meat (and horse) trade.

During the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, Auguste Escoffier was draughted into the army as a cook and stationed at Metz. He wrote about horse meat in his autobiography. Food at first was plentiful; then, as the war carried on, it wasn't:

Around 15 September the lack of food supplies began to be felt and I had to attack my reserves. From then on horse meat was the highlight of my menus, which consisted of horse stew one day, braised horse meat the next, macaroni horse meat the next, horse meat with lentils, with beans, with peas, etc. I must say that if the meal of 'man's best conquest' was at that time not cooked with every possible sauce then it was at least garnished with every possible kind of bean.