Source: Animals’ Angels USA
Blow to Swiss Horse Meat Market Expected
Consumers have a right to be apprehensive of the production practices used by meat distributors as concerns over the integrity of the industry continue to grow. The recent cases originating in the United Kingdom, where horse meat has been found in beef burgers and a variety of frozen pre-made meals, highlight the types of errors and misleading labeling that occurs throughout the world in the meat supply chain.
Shockingly, the scandal in Europe has escalated as food contaminated with horsemeat has been discovered in meals distributed to schools, meals which could potentially have been eaten by thousands of children. The food has since been pulled from the school cafeterias but the damage has been done. Officials, parents, and the general public are rightfully concerned. (Sun Article)
In addition it has recently been announced that horsemeat exported from Britain to France has tested positive for Phenylbutazone (bute), a drug that is often given to horses but is not safe for human consumption. It has just been ascertained that in 2012 there were at least two cases where “bute” was discovered in horsemeat and was not reported to the EU’s Food Standards Authority until many months after the fact. (Guardian Article)
The scandal has since grown to include at least 15 European countries. The United States may very well be next.
In a global campaign, Animals’ Angels USA (AA USA) and our European Ally Tierschutzbund Zuerich (TSB) have gathered extensive information about the horse slaughter industry.
(Warning: Graphic content that might be disturbing to viewers)
Evidence obtained through investigations conducted throughout 2012 proves that horse meat imported from Canada, Argentina and Mexico and sold in Switzerland was produced in violation of EU as well as Swiss animal welfare standards.
Additionally, we were able to prove that labels on packaged meat throughout Switzerland contain false information and that contrary to the claims of importers and distributors, the horses are not transported, cared for and slaughtered according to EU and Swiss standards.
While it is true that all slaughter plants exporting meat to the European Union must maintain an EU certification, the same cannot be said for holding facilities and transport. Most EU regulations do not apply in non-EU countries and the animal welfare laws in the production countries do not offer comparable protection for the horses. Slaughter horses face transport times of 36 hours or more, without access to food or water. Unlike in the EU, transport trailers do not provide single stalls, ventilation or water systems. The investigation found horses crammed into trailers in large groups, horses suffering in parked trailers for hours in 100 degree heat and horses being trampled to death by others.
At the feedlots, thousands of horses are kept inside barren pens at any given time without protection from the elements and with limited space to move around. Access to food or water is limited at best. Emaciated, sick or injured horses are left to die without assistance. Our investigators documented the most despicable acts of cruelty and horses forced to die a slow and inhumane death.
Even the required EU certification for slaughter plants is no guarantee for humane treatment. Horrific video footage obtained by the Canadian Horse Defense Coalition from two of the Canadian slaughter plants shows ineffective stunning with horses being shot multiple times. Despite this glaring evidence, both plants continue to export to Europe and Switzerland where the meat is sold by large scale grocery chains such as Migros.
Suppliers worked hard to keep European consumers in the dark regarding the cruelties of horse slaughter and the innate health risks involved with eating horse meat. Veterinarians in the United States have warned about the possible contamination of American horse meat for years. The fact is horses in the U.S., especially former race or performance horses, invariably have a multitude of pharmaceuticals in their system including de-wormers, hormones, and Phenylbutazone (“bute”), all of which are not safe for humans.
AA USA has been investigating mislabeling and falsified paperwork for several years. Realizing early on the utmost importance of educating the primary consumer, AA USA has always believed that the European Commission and the European consumers need to be made aware of how horse meat ends up on their grocery shelves.
From the very beginning, AA USA has released reports and videos in Europe in order to educate and dissuade people from eating horse meat. End the demand and the supply aspect ends as well. In 2010, these efforts by Animals’ Angels USA, in a campaign with GAIA, resulted in horse meat being removed from Belgium grocery stores. Much like the disbelief and outrage felt in the U.K. today, Belgium consumers were appalled to realize they had been misled by the marketing practices of the meat distributors.
In 2012, AA USA took the awareness campaign to a new level with the most in-depth research and investigations ever conducted. We completed 12 solid months of investigations in no less than 5 countries, with our investigation results being reviewed by three different European veterinarians.
We spent hundreds of hours of research identifying all of the large horse meat exporters, importers and distributors, analysis of their statements and comparison to investigative results, detailed examination and comparison of animal protection laws in Mexico, the US, Canada, Switzerland and the EU. Our strong dedication to this issue has a critical purpose; to not only save the horses but to also make the public aware about the contents of the products they are eating.
Our commitment to thorough investigative reporting has led to an explosive exposé that was released via Swiss television.
“Kassensturz,” a highly rated investigative reporting show concentrating on consumer issues, devoted an entire episode to our global campaign and the evidence discovered in our 2012 investigations. Kassensturz has a broad reach in Europe and undoubtedly the evidence uncovered in the report came as a shock to their audience and has a far reaching effect. This exposé, which aired on February 19, 2013, was a culmination of our year-long investigations and was an important and powerful step to not only raising consumer awareness but also promoting permanent change. As a result, retailers like Aldi, Lidl, Denner and Volg have already taken their horse meat products off the shelves. (Source: Kassensturz) Other major media outlets are expected to pick up the story as well.
However, this is only the first step on the long road to change. Over the next six months, AA USA and its European partners will broaden the campaign to include more and more countries. Additionally, our work against horse slaughter in the US is far from done. Pro-slaughter advocates push hard for the return of horse slaughter to the U.S. Already states like Oklahoma are pushing through legislation to legalize horse slaughter.
However, the outrage caused by our investigations has had an impact on other states such as New Mexico whose citizens and legislators have fought the advent of horse slaughter plants.
So while the challenges we face in ending horse slaughter still exist and new plants in the U.S. are being considered, the momentum against this cruel industry has never been stronger. The EU horse meat scandal, proof of falsified documents, as well as our own reports of staggering cruelty and abuse all go hand in hand to become one unified force.
AA USA can be counted on to continue to uncover the facts and expose the truth. We have built a strong reputation over the years as the leader in investigative reporting. Based on a track record of dependability and unbiased coverage, our reports are used by authorities nationwide to initiate improvement and secure charges when appropriate. Our investigations are essential to raising awareness and lobbying for change not just in the U.S. but also in Europe. Thanks to our supporters, we continue to be a strong force against horse slaughter.
- EWA News Update: EU Horse Meat Scandal Spreads to Fourteen Countries (rtfitchauthor.com)
- Consumers rightly have a major beef over horse meat (horsetalk.co.nz)
- Thirteen European nations embroiled in horse-meat scandal (horsetalk.co.nz)
- More tainted burgers, first arrests, in horse-meat scandal (horsetalk.co.nz)
- Horse meat scandal: Shoppers who buy ‘cheapest food’ at risk (telegraph.co.uk)
- Horse slaughtering legal in US, but public won’t bite (usnews.nbcnews.com)
- American horsemeat exports pose health risk and should be banned, say activists (independent.co.uk)
- Kosher Meat Sales Surge in UK in Wake of Horse Meat Scandal (algemeiner.com)
- US Horsemeat Makes its Way to European Union (theepochtimes.com)
- Bute back in spotlight after slaughter revelations (horsetalk.co.nz)