A routine examination by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland has revealed that of 27 frozen beefburgers analysed, 10 of them contained horse DNA, whilst fully 23 of the products contained pig DNA.
One sample contained 29pc horse meat. That's a lot of horse.
Professor Alan Reilly, CEO of the Food Safety Authority, told the RTE News at 6pm that finding horsemeat in beefburgers was "not a food safety issue".
What exactly is it, then? An equine safety issue? Are there places where it's not safe for my little pony to wander?
The stores selling the horsebeefpigburgers "have taken the products off shelves". The companies involved were "planning to replace them with fresh products".
How reassuring. What products will they be rushing out for us? Peacockbeefburgers? Zebrapigburgers?
It turns out the real Frankenstein culinary cutting-edge is happening right in our own backyard. Who knew?
A press release from the FSAI contains all the familiar platitudes that bureaucrats utter when events such as this latest fiasco occur.
"Consumers should not be worried". "Do not pose any food safety risk". "Working with the meat processing plants". "Consumers who have purchased any of the implicated products can return them to their retailer".
A more realistic response to discovering that horses and pigs and cows have been combined into burgers for our culinary delectation would be to say: "We are a nation whose food exporting businesses are the only bright light in our dismal economy, and this is an unmitigated public relations disaster that will already be making us a joke throughout the world. Please avoid mentioning Shergar if at all possible".
Upton Sinclair's book 'The Jungle' detailed the brutal practices of Chicago's meatpacking district as long ago as 1906, so we have had a century or more, and our very own Beef Tribunal, to learn that meat processing needs careful scrutiny.
Ironically, we used to have the ideal system for meat production that was the best guarantor of food safety, food quality and food honesty. Ireland used to be full of small, privately owned abattoirs, run by butchers who knew their craft, and who knew and respected their animals.
Over the last 30 years, these small plants have been closed, one after the other, despite the best efforts of visionary campaigners like Myrtle and Darina Allen, of Ballymaloe House in Cork, to save them as a valuable bulwark of the food quality we talk about when we use the phrase "Ireland: The Food Island".
If there are no clear and unambiguousness explanations of how this fiasco was allowed to happen and how the Department of Agriculture and the FSAI will do everything in their power to make sure it won't happen again, then "Ireland: The Food Island" will be no more than a hollow slogan.
John McKenna is author of 'The Irish Food Guide'. See www.guides.ie