Horse News

Widening Horse Meat Scandal Prompts Action in the EU

Source: Wayne Pacelle of the HSUS

“The abuses of the horse meat industry are unraveling before the eyes of the world…”

he revelations about horse meat masquerading as beef products represent one of the biggest food scandals in recent years. It’s of keen interest to The HSUS and Humane Society International because we’ve been warning European authorities of the dirty deeds of the horse meat industry. While there are no operating slaughter plants in the U.S., growing numbers of American horses are being live-shipped to Canada and Mexico, where they are slaughtered and then sent to Europe. We know that these horses are routinely given veterinary drugs not suited for human consumption. We have not been able to understand why Europe has neglected to adhere to its rigid food safety standards when it comes to horse meat.

The abuses of the horse meat industry are unraveling before the eyes of the world. I’ve asked Jo Swabe, HSI’s EU Director in Brussels, to provide a dispatch. She’s been working around the clock on the issue, along with several members of our European and American staff, who have traveled to Europe during the past week to apprise European officials of the realities of the horse meat trade in America.”


Last week, when we learned along with the rest of the world about a widening horse meat scandal in Europe, we wondered if this might be a crack in the armor of the American horse slaughter trade. We had recently learned that the number of horses exported for meat from Canada and Mexico, where most U.S. horses go for slaughter, had jumped to over 160,000 in 2012. Clearly, demand is driving the supply ever higher as, at least in Europe, the cheap cost of horse meat, relative to beef, has caused unscrupulous dealers to switch out beef for horse meat in processed foods such as lasagna and Bolognese sauce. When this fraud was discovered on Irish and English supermarket shelves, citizens in these horse-loving nations were enraged.

European politicians, concerned about a further loss of consumer confidence in the fragile European economy, are launching investigations in search of the magnitude of the fraud, and developing a plan to stabilize constituent confidence in the highly regulated food safety system.

The HSUS equine protection team immediately joined with Humane Society International representatives in the European Union to implement a strategy to advance humane concerns related to the cruelty and lack of human food safeguards in the shady North American abattoir industry. American horses do not belong on foreign dinner tables.

Horse slaughter isn’t just bad for the horse, it is a serious violation of EU food safety standards because American horses are routinely given doses of veterinary drugs absolutely prohibited for any animal that enters the European food chain. We’ve tried to alert the European Commission before but have simply been ignored. However, now Europe can’t afford to fix part of this problem, the fraud, without fixing the entire system. Without comprehensive action consumer confidence will drop even more and the economy will be even further damaged.

HSUS and HSI representatives have met with officials from seven governments so far this week. On Thursday we delivered a petition with signatures of over 9,000 EU citizens asking that the European Union place a moratorium on the sale of horse meat of American origin, because the regulatory authorities cannot ensure that the horses are in compliance with Europe’s own food safety regulations. We have more meetings later this week. In addition, we have been talking with the European media and other humane organizations to solidify our position that horses from North America do not belong in the European food chain.

As we meet with European officials, the scandal is widening. This week the EU called for its member state governments to test both for DNA (to determine if products labeled beef are in fact beef and not horse) and also for drug residue. This signals an expansion of the EU’s investigation from the fraud related to species, to a concern about the illegal trade in adulterated horse meat. Since 20 percent of the horse meat consumed in the EU comes from North America, and virtually all of this meat is out of compliance with EU food safety standards, we are gratified to see that the Commission is paying attention to this serious food safety concern. The scandal has widened as well with Belgium announcing fraud in its equine “passport” system. This mandatory program documents all drugs given to European horses destined for slaughter. In addition, this week several more countries have verified that they have discovered horse meat in their beef products.

The Council of the European Union is set to meet early next week to agree on its response to the scandal and announce significant reforms to address this crisis. We will be in Brussels and the capitols of other influential governments over the next several days talking with health, environment and agricultural officials to convince them that Europe cannot have a safe and compliant food system while allowing the sale of horse meat from North America with no lifetime drug treatment history.

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9 replies »

  1. Consumer confidence dropping with regard to meat is not a bad thing! This is an “unhealthy” product – whether it is horse meat that contains veterinary medicines that humans should not consume, or antibiotic levels in beef to counter all the filth these animals have to endure that, when consumed in quanities by humans, make us resistant to drugs that kill superbugs.

    Add to that the damage we are doing to the planet with all the animal waste polluting the air, water & soil. Then there are the pesticides applied to the GM foods fed to “meat” animals that also ends up in our air, water & soil.

    Of course, the cholesterol in meat contributes greatly to heart disease and changes to the ph balance of a person’s body (to acidic) contributing to type II diabetes. People know these things as their medical providers tell them constantly, but addiction is difficult to battle. Now that meatless diets are so easy and readily available, many intelligent people worldwide are considering making the change, and that is a good thing.


  2. I do not eat animals any more since I have become a regular on RT site and have learned the truth about animal slaughter. My family does eat meat (I buy from family farms that I know they at least treat their animals with some compassion). A few dozon years ago they had a big to do here in the Denver, Co area about hamburger, seems tests were done and there were many animals ground up in the burger( I do not remember horse as one of those animals). Now I have had to purchase occationally burger from super markets here and the meat has a funny flavor and a pinkish-purple color, I just assumed it was the pink slime or meat glue-now I have to wonder is their horse meat in our food supply? It will be interesting to see down the road.


    • Geri – buy “crumbles” instead of ground “beef” (or whatever it is with multiple ground up animals). There are several national companies that make it. Gardein has a 4 pack at Costco. Morningstar Farms has crumbles at all the major grocery store chains and the specialty food stores, too. Or you could always crumble up veggie burgers – whatever kind you like (my favorite is Boca). In chili, spaghetti sauce, or wherever you use hamburger your family will not know the difference except there is very little grease (the unhealthy fat that conributes to diabetes, cancer and heart disease). You could even teach them how to live better/healthier throughout their lifespan.


  3. good..the gov of OKLA needs this on her desk..we must spred the info far and wide..most people here in the US still claim the horsemeat is safe..I know it is not from raising horses..I try to add my comments to articles circulating in europe to make them aware of what they are getting from the US..many of the drugs and substances being used in race and show horses are not being tested for..You need to get info from insiders and twist some arms to get them to talk


  4. I also just sent this article to Governor Fallin in Oklahoma. I doubt she signs the bill into law. I would suggest sending all of the articles to her. She may be more sensible than her legislature.


  5. Well, I honestly believe organizations like EWA, WHFF, TCF, AA, CHDC et al have been trying to get HSUS to try harder on this issue for a VERY long time.

    I’m glad they get it….finally. But many advocates here and on other sites, locations have been collecting, reporting, draining their purses and making the public more aware than HSUS.

    But I’ll take it.

    They have serious clout.


  6. They thought it was stupid until they saw it with their own eyes.. much like the rest of the world. They can’t afford to fix it now guess their systems livin on a prayer.


  7. We warned them many times over. When I found out that the Oklahoma Legislators have set the wheels in motion for a slaughterhouse, I immediately called the Representative’s office as well as the
    Governor’s office. As a member of the Arabian Horse Club if it ever passes, I will boycott the US nationals now held in Oklahoma. I will send a letter also to our leadership of the Association It is nothing but greed that keeps people pursuing this tortureous busines. I have heard very little on our news media about this. I wouldn’t doubt it if the US meat business has put this in our system too. The people in the US need to wake up because its very possible. I was reading somewhere that we
    import meat from other countries too. What’s up with that? I haven’t eatten meat in years and I do not miss it at all. Is it any wonder diabites and other illnesses are showing up. The people in Oklahoma had better hope that this does not become law because they will suffer the effects of this
    horrific trade. Inhumane treatmnt and environmental disaster will only follow. Its about time the Europeans woke up and stop eating horse meat from the US. To all those greedy people over there slobering over our horse meat, I guess you will suffer the fate from eating our horses. We must never allow a horse slaughter plant to open in the US again.


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