The Washington Post

Ikea pulls horse meat meatballs, to dismay of many on Internet

Europe’s horsemeat scandal has claimed Ikea meatballs, those mysteriously cheap, lingonberry-sauced snacks that have gained something of a cult following among fans of the furniture store.

On Monday, Ikea withdrew bags of the meatballs from 21 European countries after officials in the Czech Republic found traces of horse DNA in a bag labeled as beef and pork.

Ikea has said U.S. stores won’t be affected, as they get their meat domestically. The recall also only affects bulk frozen bags, not the meatballs you buy in Ikea’s cafeteria.

But that hasn’t stopped devotees from mourning their beloved meatballs -- which have, after all, inspired at least a few odes in the past.

“Not going to Ikea til they put meatballs back on the menu!!” One Twitter-user wrote.

“Ikea meatballs? Neigh it ain’t so,” tweeted the Australian columnist Martin McKenzie-Murray.

Europe’s horsemeat scandal has also seen burgers, lasagna and meat pies pulled from store shelves since mid-January, when Irish authorities found significant quantities of horsemeat in frozen burgers. Several European agricultural ministers have vowed new regulations as early as this summer.

Of course, none of that accounts for how horsemeat got into these products. Horse is cheaper than beef, which could explain the incentive. That price difference also has many on Twitter joking that Ikea shoppers got what they paid for: “Defying Logic, Food From Place That Sells Furniture Not What It Seems,” is how The Awl headlined the story.

“You get fifteen meatballs for four bucks at IKEA,” tweeted Gawker’s Drew Magary. “You’re lucky they aren’t made of beetle shells.”

In fact, as Nate Hopper writes over on Esquire, horsemeat meatballs could actually be a pretty good extension of Ikea’s bargain-minded brand.

“The beloved ethos behind Ikea is that you can fake the really good stuff in the meantime,” he writes. “So in all honesty: Cheers to the passable, lovable, fake crap. Because it’s actually worth it.”

Caitlin Dewey is The Post’s digital culture critic. Follow her on Twitter @caitlindewey or subscribe to her daily newsletter on all things Internet. (
Show Comments

Sign up for email updates from the "Confronting the Caliphate" series.

You have signed up for the "Confronting the Caliphate" series.

Thank you for signing up
You'll receive e-mail when new stories are published in this series.
Most Read


Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Close video player
Now Playing

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.