All these questions can now be answered by a single test that reveals the presence of meat from any of 32 different species in food samples.
The test, based on a DNA chip, is being evaluated by food regulatory authorities in Europe, and could also be used by supermarkets and food companies to check on their suppliers.
"The beauty of this is that you can scan for so many things at once," says Thomas Schlumberger, director of clinical genetics at Affymetrix in California, which developed the "FoodExpert-ID" chip together with bioMrieux of France.
The chip's main use would to ensure meat products are what they say they are and don't contain anything they should not. It can reveal, for example, whether foie gras pt really contains goose liver.
The test could also help expose scams like the one uncovered in Europe last May, in which a few poultry producers were caught bulking up chicken meat with beef and pork waste.
As well as posing a possible BSE risk, the scam also meant that people whose religions forbid eating pork may have ended up consuming it.
The UK's Food Standards Agency says that it is evaluating the potential of the test and comparing it with a more experimental system built by Agilent of California. However, determined food fraudsters may be able to outwit the chip.
It has been claimed that some producers are treating beef or pork extracts to destroy the DNA before they add them to other meats. If the chip takes off, its first specific task is likely to be ensuring that cattle feed is free of any illegal animal remains that might spread BSE.