German Language Blog

Germans are upset because of horsemeat in meals and fraudulent labeling of eggs Posted by on Mar 5, 2013 in Food

German consumers are very upset these days. Lebensmittelkontrolleure (food inspectors) found out that the Hackfleisch (minced meat) used in several Fertiggerichte (pre-cooked dishes) were mixed with Pferdefleisch (horsemeat). Usually, Germans prefer minced meat made of Schweinefleisch (pork) or Rindfleisch (beef). A couple of days later, media announced that organic eggs were as organic as pesticide-laden foods. Dealers sold eggs from Legenhennen (laying hens) or Eier aus Bodenhaltung (barn eggs) as organic ones.  And most retailers even did not know that their products were labeled wrongly.

Why are Germans so upset about that? Well, it is true that Germans do usually not divest themselves of horsemeat because of religious reasons, like Hindus who do not eat beef, or Muslims who do not eat pork, but Germans would like to know which ingredients particular foods have. Küchenfertige Produkte (ready-to-cook products) are labeled what Zutaten (ingredients) they contain and consumers trust the label.

Are farmers only geldgierig (greedy for money)? In case of the eggs, one can say: yes! It is simply more expensive to produce organic eggs, since hens need a larger run area and they may not be fed with food that is mixed with Betacarotin (beta-carotene). Beta-carotene ensures that the Eigelb or Eidotter (yolk) becomes orange in color. Interestingly, at least, German consumers prefer a more orange yolk. The yolk of organic eggs is usually a faint yellow. In case of the Pferdefleischskandal (horsemeat scandal), one cannot say that producers are greedy for money, since legally sold horsemeat costs as much as beef.

Some Germans would give horsemeat a try and eat it, but others who have horses as Reittiere (riding animals), Nutztiere (livestock), or Zuchttiere (breeder animals) have another relationship to horses. The make the point clearer, Germans would never eat dogs or cats, since both these animals are usually kept as pets in Germany. Further, there is probably no German who would ever eat Meerschweinchen (guinea pigs), which are a delicacy Peru, because guinea pigs are among the typical pets children have.

Do you think that German consumers are upset with good reasons? Would you feel deceived if someone sold you horsemeat and telling you that this was beef or pork?


der Lebensmittelkontrolleur – food inspector (masculine)
die Lebensmittelkontrolleurin – food inspector (feminine)
das Hackfleisch – minced meat
das Fertiggericht – pre-cooked dish
das Pferdefleisch – horsemeat
das Schweinefleisch – pork
das Rindfleisch – beef
die Legehenne – laying hen
(die) Eier aus Bodenhaltung – barn eggs (usually used without article)
das kückenfertige Produckt – ready-to-cook product
die Zutaten – ingredients (plural)
geldgierig – greedy for money
das Betacarotin – beta-carotene
das Eigelb / Eidotter – yolk
der Pferdefleischskandal – horsemeat scandal
das Reittier – riding animal
das Nutztier – livestock
das Zuchttiert – breeder animal
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About the Author: Sandra Rösner

Hello everybody! I studied English and American Studies, Communication Science, and Political Science at the University of Greifswald. Since I have been learning English as a second language myself for almost 20 years now I know how difficult it is to learn a language other than your native one. Thus, I am always willing to keep my explanations about German grammar comprehensible and short. Further, I am inclined to encourage you to speak German in every situation. Regards, Sandra