While you might be such a foodie that you scoff at those who freak out when they hear “horse tartare,” the fact is that serving horse meat at a restaurant is currently illegal in the U.S. And the federal government is advising one Pittsburgh-area restaurant to not put this item on the menu again.
Last week, a Lawrenceville, PA, eatery served a dish called Le Cheval — French for “horse” — as the second course of a special five-course menu prepared by featured guest chefs, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The horse was prepared tartare style, with salt and vinegar chips, cured egg yolk, and black garlic mayonnaise.
Two days later, an inspector with the U.S. Department of Agriculture made a visit, and issued the restaurant a warning.
“On May 10, 2017, USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) was notified that a restaurant in Pittsburgh illegally served horse meat to consumers during a May 8th event,” FSIS said in statement. “Within hours of notification, FSIS was onsite investigating the firm and issued a Notice of Warning for illegal entry of horsemeat into the United States. The Agency also confirmed that there were no other horse products in commerce or on the menu of this restaurant.”
The 2017 Consolidated Appropriations Act (Sec. 762) extended a ban on FSIS using any government funds to inspect horse meat for human consumption in the U.S., which means it cannot be sold.
The restaurant’s chef said in a statement last week that the meal was a collaborative dinner with fellow chefs, including some from Quebec, where horse tartare is a traditional dish.
Because horses are not traditionally raised for their meat in the U.S., meat from some horses could contain contaminants that shouldn’t be in livestock intended for consumption. However, the chef at this restaurant says the horse used last week was not taken from just any old ranch.
“It was sourced from a sustainable horse farm in Alberta, Canada,” the chef said in a statement, adding that it was available for “one night only” and is not a part of the regular menu.
Although the warning letter didn’t come with any penalties, the restaurant could face prosecution if it offers horse meat again.