LONDON -- First, there was "pink slime." Then horse meat. Most recently? "Desinewed meat."Recent revelations that such products have reached dinner tables, including horse meat falsely labeled as beef in Europe, have cast an unappetizing light on the global food industry.Critics say the widening horse meat scandal in particular is a result of a food supply chain that has become too complex to be safe. Others say we are stuck with the system: In today's world, foodstuff is a highly mobile commodity, while consumers have come to expect -- and increasingly need -- plentiful, cheap meat.Genevieve Cazes-Valette, a French anthropologist who studies food, said that throughout history, people have had a special and intense relationship with meat."When we fast, we don't give up bread. We give up meat," she said.A century ago, meat was a dish primarily for special occasions or the rich. That's still the case in much of the world, but today consumers in wealthy countries expect meat to be their primary source of protein, and they want it inexpensive and convenient.They'd also prefer not to think too hard about where it comes from."They want cheap and they want good," Cazes-Valette said.Europe's horse meat scandal has exposed a food supply chain set up to fulfill that demand -- one in which meat from a Romanian abattoir can end up in British lasagna by way of companies in Luxembourg and France.Since horse DNA was found in burgers from an Irish plant last month, the scandal has snaked its way across the continent, exposing a haphazard system with seemingly little rhyme or reason.Horse meat is not generally considered unsafe to eat, but the scandal has triggered disgust in places such as Britain where it is not traditionally eaten.Three of the British firms whose products were found to contain horse meat say they got the products from Comigel, a French food-processing firm.Comigel instructed Tavola, its subsidiary in Luxembourg, to make the products. Tavola placed an order for the meat with supplier Spanghero, based in south France, which contacted a Cypriot trader, who subcontracted a Dutch trader.The Dutch trader placed an order with abattoirs in Romania, which sent the meat to Spanghero. The Romanians deny mislabeling horse meat as beef.Spanghero sent it to Comigel's factory in Luxembourg, and it went into food products sent to stores across Europe.Apart from the use of horse meat there is nothing unusual about the process. But the thought of anything making an unannounced appearance in prepared foods disturbs consumers."In France as elsewhere, people have this idea that we don't know quite what we're eating. We don't know where it comes from," Cazes-Valette said.