Horse News

American Horsemeat Exports Pose Health Risk and Should be Banned

as published in the UK’s INDEPENDENT

The influx from the US, which last year sent 167,000 horses to its two neighbours for slaughter as human food, has been largely unexamined during the ongoing crisis

Tesco Beef?Thousands of tonnes of horsemeat originating from the United States, which may be tainted with banned veterinary drugs, is being imported into Europe for human consumption every year and should be banned, say campaigners.

A report by the respected Humane Society International (HSI) outlining what they say is a glaring gap in food safety standards concerning horse meat from North America, is to be submitted to the European Commission this week, along with a demand for a halt to the trade.

About 15,000 tonnes of horsemeat worth £42m is shipped each year to Europe from Mexico and Canada, the vast majority of which comes from horses raised in the US, which bans their slaughter for human consumption. The influx from the US, which last year sent 167,000 horses to its two neighbours for slaughter as human food, has been largely unexamined during the ongoing crisis. But experts argue that wide differences in record keeping between the US and Europe means large quantities of horse meat that may not meet EU standards are entering the food chain from across the Atlantic while attention is focused on countries such as Romania.

Jo Swabe, European Union director of HSI, said: “Americans, rather like the British, do not regard horses as a source of meat and so these animals are treated by their owners with drugs that mean they cannot enter the human food chain. There is no reliable system in the US, or in Canada and Mexico , to verify just what medicines have been administered and yet these carcasses are being shipped to Europe. The only answer is for this trade to be stopped.”

Unlike Europe, where a horse must have a passport identifying its origin and listing medications it has had, there is no such US system. Instead, any American selling a horse to Mexico or Canada must declare it has received no substances making it unfit for use as food such as phenylbutazone or “bute”, a widely-used painkiller and a carcinogen in humans. Campaigners say this system is ripe for abuse.

The Independent understands the European Union’s Food and Veterinary Office has concluded documentation showing US horses presented for slaughter in Mexico and Canada have not had substances making them unfit for use as food is “not reliable”.

The European Commission said robust measures were in place but requirements were under review.

Click (HERE) to visit the Independent and to Comment

18 replies »

  1. This unfortunate practice could be the very thing that saves America’s equine. It is for sure that the Senate and Congress won’t legislate to stop slaughtering our horses. Europe is SHAMING our politicians into stepping up and doing the right thing by our animals and their people.

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    • In addition to the prohibition of wild equidae from EU markets, it is highly probably the wild equidae have meet the butchers in Mexico and Canada (and off shore canners) and been shipped to importing countries via forged documents. Besides, once adopted our government does nothing to follow up the adoptions, welfare or disposition of wild equines.

      One or two sales, that wild equine becomes a non-wild equine….just as bogus as the EU passport system….or our food inspection system.

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  2. The wild ones aren’t drug free. There wormed immediately and if they survive captivity there still exposed to all sorts of banned items.

    As for the EU shutting the trade down–TRIPLE HOOFRAYS! The EU is doing something our own government can’t or won’t do–stop horse slaughter. Even Obama has let the horses down since the day he took office.

    So in this case–whatever it takes its all good as far as I’m concerned.

    As a reminder to other visitors–advocates never have an issue with appropriate euthanasia. This means calling the vet out to do that shot and then call a rendering man. Otherwise you need to cremate. From the day you purchase your horse you should be setting aside emergency funds for that day.

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  3. I appreciate the efforts of this journalist to go beyond the known processors in this scandal.

    It is highly likely that US equines, brutally and illegally processed for humans to eat are definitely in the mix. Please note the big meat processors and regulators in the US are silent. They know….they know.

    How do the putrid food peddlers operate? They have multiple shipping points of export and import. They layer and layer just like financial shell companies trying to hide money, nut they are trying to hide source and product.

    Something else has come to my mind…..if equine flesh has been running at high costs per pound, why is it winding up in ground meat, highly processed food products NOW?

    I think I know the answer.

    And as we have said….you pro HCHS trolls have now made all of our meat industry suspect and ruined our production quality and safety reputation.

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  4. I hate to say this, but people who eat “our” horses, without reservation or thought, almost deserve what they get. I’m tired of hearing about the “scandals” of the European horse market. Maybe this will get them to stop buying our horses from the Canadian and Mexican market and that trade will dry up! One can only hope. I am not about to stop giving my horses “Bute” or whatever else it will take to stop inflammation.
    But the market is also saturated with the oversaturation of breeders who trying to find that “one perfect horse” who will shine above all the others, and then discards the other less perfect ones. It doesn’t matter which market your in, Thoroughbred, Quarter Horse, you can find the Selfish breeders every where!

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    • There’s a difference between knowingly eating horse and dining on horse. Sadly either one may get you very ill and the diseases don’t care how they got there.

      Me? I would NEVER knowingly dine on horse. Not just because of the drugs but I love horses. Horses are our companions, pets and athletes.

      I don’t do Survivor and I don’t do Big Brother. I just couldn’t face myself in the mirror knowing that I had committed the worst betrayal known to man.

      For others that insist on dining on horse–there are no words for you. We have nothing in common so I know we couldn’t be friends. Shakes head…

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      • Margaret:

        I said most people don’t know what they are ingesting….not just mislabeled foodstuffs that contain horsemeat.

        IOW, it is not just about horsemeat.

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  5. I only hope that somebody will listen and take action. It certainly isn’t this government. They don’t have the sense of an ant. If they don’t heed the warnings, it’s going to be another mad cow catastrophy.

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  6. I have had a couple back and forths with the head of World Horse Welfare on the scandal—you may be interested in his latest reply—focusing on the transport issue is what they emphasize, not the overbreeding —
    Dear Susan

    Many thanks for your email. We are doing our best to highlight the key issues entwined in the whole sorry saga we are living through – which has included a web article on the CNN website – see http://edition.cnn.com/2013/02/18/world/europe/opinion-owers-horsemeat/index.html#cnn-disqus-area

    We entirely agree that the issue of overbreeding of poor quality equines is a huge problem – and without changing this we will never get to the root cause of the current situation. In the summer we will be launching a campaign focused on overbreeding – aimed very much at the hobby breeder – who are research shows are a major contributor to the production of poor quality equines.

    Best,

    Roly

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    • Susan, This is the same organization that a few weeks ago finally answered my email. Every time they sent me a newsletter I would jump their a@# over not working to stop horses from being sent to slaughter plants? I was told that they approved of humane horse slaughter. When the video came out showing what was happening in the plants in the UK I went to their face book page and told them what I thought of them for condoning horse slaughter. I hope they can be shamed into trying to stop it.

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    • Susan….notice Roly says “the whole sorry saga WE are living through”?

      Ummm, Roly? You’re an equines’ welfare activity and it’s about “WE”…the freaking selfish humans? How about equines? How about drug exposure? And finally, Roly….you think HCHS is humane? Good Lord! You and your “activity” not only fail the equines, you fail in basic logic.

      I hope NO ONE is giving this group money…they sound like a Berman/meat industry front group.

      I don’t even know where to begin with “poor quality equines”. What a flaming JERK! I hope he/she/it doesn’t own a horse.

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      • Denise and Barbara—I have been giving to this group for the working horses programs they run in Sudan, Haiti, Peru where they treat the horses for wounds, parasites, poor harness fitting and even distributing simple fly fringes for the bridles. However, you should read my original letter here to know how I keep pestering WHW about the underlying driver of the slaughter industry. I do not think it goes so much to the “hobby breeders” as he says, but the large breed organizations and volume breeders. Yeah, the “poor quality equines” phrase smacks of commercialism and is repugnant.

        Mr Owers and Miss Stark—I am sure you are aware of the widening corruption and exposure of the failures of the passport tracking system lauded in Europe and the huge export market in your area of the world for American slaughter horse meats. As regards the former, your participation in the BBC report on illegal passports has received much attention in America— http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-21430330 In case you have not read the lates on the American version of the corruption, this report yesterday came out in the Independent of London—

        Jo Swabe, European Union director of HSI, said: “Americans, rather like the British, do not regard horses as a source of meat and so these animals are treated by their owners with drugs that mean they cannot enter the human food chain. There is no reliable system in the US, or in Canada and Mexico , to verify just what medicines have been administered and yet these carcasses are being shipped to Europe. The only answer is for this trade to be stopped.”

        Unlike Europe, where a horse must have a passport identifying its origin and listing medications it has had, there is no such US system. Instead, any American selling a horse to Mexico or Canada must declare it has received no substances making it unfit for use as food such as phenylbutazone or “bute”, a widely-used painkiller and a carcinogen in humans. Campaigners say this system is ripe for abuse.

        The Independent understands the European Union’s Food and Veterinary Office has concluded documentation showing US horses presented for slaughter in Mexico and Canada have not had substances making them unfit for use as food is “not reliable”.

        Again, I write you as one of your supporters calling on the obvious —the overproduction of horses by breeding operations using slaughter as a cheap culling mechanism is one of the primary drivers of the slaughter pipeline. This is a inescapable conclusion when one sees the organizations given official dispensation to issue “passports” based on some flimsy “qualifications” —-the “Spotted Horse and Pony Breed Assn.”?? and other “breed” groups. Just as happens here in the Quarter Horse Industry, the Arabian, Thoroughbred, etc. the breed associations give advice to members on how to avoid taxes, shelter income, and support the slaughter industry to facilitate bloated breeding “programs” It is bigger than the 24 hr transport issue, folks. This is akin to the plumber working on a dripping faucet while ignoring the fact that the water main is blown.

        We are simply awaiting the next development which is coming—exposure of the same horsemeat contaminated foods sold in BigBox and other retailers here in the States.

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  7. I’m terrified Susan that our food chain has been contaminated. I’m terrified that at some point I ate horse without knowing about it. While the consumption of the drugs would worry me I’d be more offended about someone sneaking horsemeat into my dinner.

    It really bothers me.

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    • I have e-mailed the FDA demanding a website be put up showing exactly what the FDA is doing to test for horsemeat in US meat products and the results..their headquarters are in virginia, and there are contact numbers..we should be flooding them with demands for testing results…given the fact 100s of thousands of our horses go across the borders to canada and mexico…we are the worlds largest slaughterproducer and no doubt in my mind it is coming back into the US. You will need to put in a business name in order to fill out the contact

      http://www.registrarcorp.com/contact.jsp?lang=en

      we shouldbe letting them know the kind of trouble and crime as well as contaimination of americas food product opening slaughter houses for horses will bring forth..Cattlemen should be up in arms to stop it as well…just like the mad cow scare here in the US when canadian cows from a “mad cow” ended up in amercas beef and american beef were not allowed for export for several years..the cattlemen were angry that the dept of ag didn’t test adequate numbers of beef to assure importers we were free of mad cow..feeding dead cows to live cows via processed feed was the source and was banned in america..Rusia announced the other day it was banning beef imports from america

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