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Food and Drink

'Horsemeat for the poor' plan causes a stir

Two German politicians have proposed that horsemeat products pulled from grocery store shelves due to false branding should be redistributed to the poor. The idea has generated debate over whether it is proper, or legal.

Hartwig Fischer, a member of the Christian Democratic Union, made his point on Saturday to the daily Bild newspaper, saying he believed the horsemeat products should not be thrown away.

He went so far as to be photographed and videoed eating a horsemeat lasagna by the newspaper.

"This is good. I cannot tell the difference from other lasagnas," Fischer said.

A proposal

Fischer has suggested that the products screened and found to contain horsemeat be provided to aid organizations rather than destroyed.

German Development Minister Dirk Niebel chimed in to support Fischer's proposal, pointing to the practicality of using the mislabeled products to help the needy.

"More than 800 million people in the world are starving. Even in Germany, there are unfortunately people who are financially strapped, even for food … I think we cannot throw away good food here in Germany," said Niebel.

Debate ensues

German Minister of Social Affairs Ursula von der Leyen responded to the idea by saying it was "absurd." "Whether rich or poor, everyone wants to know what they eat. And it must be flawless," she said.

Other politicians told the dpa news agency of their distaste for the plan. SPD General Secretary Andrea Nahles referred to it as inhuman, explaining that it's an "insult to people with low incomes," whilst Green Party leader Renate Künast said "we want good quality for all," rather than treating some as second-class citizens.

Consumer Affairs Ministry spokesman Holger Eichele told the dpa news agency the debate was pointless due to legalities. "The passing on of these products is absolutely impossible," Eichele said.

He went on to explain that unless the origin of all the ingredients was known, transfers of the food were illegal.

tm/rc (dpa, AFP)