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Published February 25, 2013, 09:07 PM

Horse meat isn’t the norm, but is it bad for you?

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - Imagine biting into your favorite dish, only to discover it wasn't what you were hoping? That's exactly what happened to IKEA.

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - Imagine biting into your favorite dish, only to discover it wasn't what you were hoping? That's exactly what happened to IKEA.

The Swedish furniture giant found its signature cafeteria meal, meatballs, contains horse.

As alarming as it seems, it may not be as bad as it sounds.

Wayne Rheault, Meats by John & Wayne: "These are pork shoulder roasts."

If you grew up in a meat and potatoes type of family, chances are you've had a lot of beef.

Rheault: "If they're coming in here, typically they are coming in, looking for a steak or a roast or a pork chop. Something to throw on the grill in the summer time."

Maybe you've even gone on the wild side, tried rabbit, heck even a little squirrel. This butcher says his Fargo customers aren't usually so adventurous.

Rheault: “As far as way out in left field odd like alligator and kangaroo, something like that, no we rarely get those requests."

But what about horse? In countries like Central Asia and Mongolia, it's not out of the ordinary to ask for such a thing. That could be why horse meat can be found trotting into a third of frozen beef burgers in Ireland, or accidentally flipping into other animal products in more than a dozen other countries.

Rheault:"You can make anything taste good I think"

So, whether it’s venison, beef or even horse meat, in the end it all may taste the same. The question is, is it bad for you?

Robert Maddock, NDSU Meat Specialist: "There is nothing inherently bad about it. It's just a meat source."

The physical difference is only slight. NDSU'S meat specialist says horse is darker and more lean but only noticeable before it's processed.

Maddock: "Once it's in a ground meat product or anything like that, it would be very difficult to tell the difference between horse meat and other meats."

Plus, the chances of a horse meat mix-up happening here in the U.S. is slim to none.

Rheault: "I think it would be highly unlikely that it would be an accident to have thousands of pounds go into a product."

So, even if it was or wasn't a major mistake, and the meat is really just meat, maybe what sounds like such a bad thing, could be good?

Today, IKEA did suspend all meatball sales in Sweden and plans to withdraw its stock from 13 other countries.

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