The horse meat scandal is something that I've stayed away from commenting properly on until now. The problem has a number of issues and flaws though, that make it interesting to watch.
First, there's the issue of trust. If there's horse meat in a product, this should be declared. Everyone agrees to at least that much of the situation. From here, it gets murky.
Ask anyone what is in a Free Range, Hand-Reared, 100% Angus Beef Burger and you'd expect the answer to be ONLY beef. Ask any sane person what's in a value burger that comes in packs of 8 costing less than a pint of beer, and you'll hear a whole bunch more things that aren't on the label either.
So where's the problem if the public psyche already holds "value" burgers at some meat threshold that's not much higher than a common sausage? It definitely has raised awareness that meat is not always what you think it is, but that's not the real issue here.
The issue is the trust problem at the top of this post - It's not the meat.
In the US, they would never have this issue. Meat has more checks and balances applied to it than a multinational bank would. The same doesn't apply in Europe. If you don't have trust in your food source, you can go source it somewhere else. This is understood in the USA and Canada. In Europe, nobody has a clue where their meat comes from in the first place, but they all trust their governments (especially since the BSE scandal) to give them what they're being told it is.
And THAT is what is at the crux of the issue.
This trust should be sacrosanct, and now we find that not only was the eye off the ball, but officials were not even watching the correct game.