Horse steak is healthy - pity about the yuck factor

Comparative study involved testing both meats in a range of categories

Redheads are supposedly more flexible or hyper-mobile than others. This cintender for the BT Young Scientist prize tests the flexibility of redheads compared to that of other people.


Beef is all very well but a nice horse steak provides a healthy option. Two students from Castletroy College in Limerick have shown that horse has a quarter of the fat and more iron than an equivalent beef steak.

Unfortunately, there is the yuck factor, admits Andreea Slavescu (15) who, with Orla Keaveney (16), decided to compare the two meats in a range of categories. “There is a kind of taboo against horse meat here,” Andreea suggests.

The two had visited France where there is no problem eating horse. “It is eaten all the time there but people here consider it waste meat,” said Orla.

They became interested in comparing the two meats as a BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition project after the horse meat scandal erupted last year and were delighted to be selected to participate at the RDS.

They started a comparative study that involved testing both meats in a range of categories. “We decided to concentrate on calories, protein, fat, iron content and moisture,” Andreea said.

Orla described the battery of tests that needed to be conducted to measure each of these. They used specialised equipment at the University of Limerick and at Limerick Institute of Technology.

Their results? “We found beef has four times the amount of fat than horse,” Andreea said. Protein, calories and moisture levels were comparable, Orla said, but horse has more iron than beef.

Another food item, fresh milk, was the subject studied by Louise McCormack, Laura Quigley and Claire McCormack, or rather the cows that produce it.

“We wanted to see whether playing different types of music during milking affected milk production, ” Louise explained.

The three students from Presentation Secondary School in Thurles tested a whole range of factors, not just yield, including protein level, butterfat content and somatic cell count among many others, Claire said.

They did their experiments on a farm in Templederry, Co Tipperary with 60 Holstein Friesian cows, Laura said, with the music choices including classical music, electronic music and no music at all.

The results were conclusive – the animals performed best when they listened to classical music, and for many categories no music was better than electronic music, the girls said.