To the dismay of Britons, there have been yet more cases of horse meat taking the expected place of beef in favorite foods like hamburgers and now lasagna, reports the New York Times. The series of discoveries first began in Ireland and “has now touched producers and potentially millions of consumers in at least five countries—Ireland, Britain, Poland, France, and Sweden.”

So far, Irish authorities have acknowledged that they “don’t know exactly where this is happening.” Suffice it to say, the U.K. is reeling from these discoveries. Particularly because “the labeling of horse meat as beef has breached one of the great culinary taboos of Britain and Ireland.”

On a food-safety front, while those who may have already eaten horse meat unbeknownst to them are in no imminent danger. NYT explains that “meat from horses is no more harmful than that from cattle, though there were some unsubstantiated fears that phenylbutazone, a veterinary drug, could find its way into the food chain.”

Meanwhile, to add intrigue to the scandal, the Guardian reports that organized criminals, including the Italian and Polish mafia, are behind the scam.

As the paper explains, “There are claims that vets and other officials working within abattoirs and food production plants are intimidated into signing off meat as beef when it is in fact cheaper alternatives such as pork or horse.”

[via The New York Times]