VIENNA The hunt for undeclared horsemeat in food snagged a Vienna kebab stand on Thursday, dealing a blow to the savoury Middle Eastern dishes that are a popular Austrian snack.
Responding to a Europe-wide scandal that has triggered recalls of mislabled products, health inspectors in Austria had already found covert horse flesh in a supermarket beef pasta dish and sausages from the southern province of Carinthia.
But the story hit home with the discovery of equine genetic material in a sample taken from a kebab stand, one of hundreds in the city that have added the Turkish import to their traditional offerings of sausages and leberkaese meat loaf.
The sample was found at a stand in Vienna's western Ottakring neighbourhood on a skewer which was supposed to hold only beef, veal and turkey, the Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety said.
Agriculture Minister Nikolaus Berlakovich promised a zero-tolerance approach to such consumer fraud and reiterated he would press for a "food passport" declaring the origins of ingredients in packaged dishes when his European Union counterparts meet next week.
Eating horsemeat is not taboo in Austria, where it is seen as a delicacy - especially in Vienna - but consumers are outraged at being misled about the sources of their food.
"Horsemeat is as much a part of Vienna as the Sachertorte," Margarete Gumprecht, head of a family business that specialises in the iron-rich treat, told Format magazine this month.
(Reporting by Michael Shields; Editing by Angus MacSwan)