Federal Legislation Introduced to Prohibit Slaughter of American Equines

Source: Multiple

“This bipartisan bill seeks to prevent and end the inhumane and dangerous process of transporting thousands of horses a year for food.”

photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

photo by Terry Fitch of Wild Horse Freedom Federation

On April 22nd, 2015, federal lawmakers introduced legislation to prevent the establishment of horse slaughter operations within the U.S., end the current export of American horses and donkeys for slaughter abroad, and protect the public from consuming toxic horse meat. The Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act, H.R. 1942, was introduced by Reps. Frank Guinta (R-N.H.), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.), and Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-N.M.).

Last year, more than 140,000 American horses, donkeys and mules were slaughtered for human consumption in foreign countries. The animals often suffer long journeys to slaughter plants in Canada and Mexico without adequate food, water or rest. At the slaughterhouse, horses are  brutally forced into a “kill box” and shot in the head with a captive bolt gun in an attempt to stun them before slaughter—a process that can be inaccurate due to the biology and nature of equines and result in animals sustaining repeated blows or remaining conscious during the kill process.

For centuries, horses have embodied the spirit of American freedom and pride,” said Rep. Guinta. “To that end, horses are not raised for food – permitting their transportation for the purposes of being slaughtered for human consumption is not consistent with our values and results in a dangerously toxic product.  This bipartisan bill seeks to prevent and end the inhumane and dangerous process of transporting thousands of horses a year for food.”

Horses sent to slaughter are often subject to appalling, brutal treatment,” said Rep. Schakowsky. “We must fight those practices. The SAFE Act of 2015 will ensure that these majestic animals are treated with the respect they deserve.”

“The slaughter of horses for human consumption is an absolute travesty that must be stopped,” said Rep. Buchanan.  “This bipartisan measure will finally put an end to this barbaric practice.”

Horse slaughter is an inhumane practice that causes great pain and distress to the animals, and poses numerous environmental and food safety concerns,” said Rep. Lujan Grisham. “The vast majority of my constituents oppose horse slaughter. I’m proud to support the SAFE Act to ban this cruelty once and for all.”

The SAFE Act would also protect consumers from dangerous American equine meat, which can be toxic to humans due to the unregulated administration of drugs to horses. Because horses and donkeys are not raised for food, they are routinely given hundreds of toxic drugs and chemical treatments over their lifetimes that are prohibited by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use in animals intended for human consumption. Those drugs, although safe for horses, are potentially toxic to humans if consumed. In December 2014, the European Union announced its suspension of imports of horse meat from Mexico after a scathing audit of EU-certified Mexican horse slaughter plants, which kill tens of thousands of American horses each year. Additionally, the discovery of horse meat in beef products in Europe shocked consumers and raised concerns about the potential impact on American food industries.

The concerned American public is encouraged to contact their U.S. representatives and urge them to cosponsor the SAFE Act in order to protect America’s horses and overall consumer health from horse slaughter.

EU Ban does Little to Slow Export of US Horses to Slaughter

Source: Equine Welfare Alliance and Wild Horse Freedom Federation

An official AG’s opinion from the Texas Attorney General’s office is clear-cut: these shipments violate Texas law.

Slaughter BoundEquine Welfare Alliance and Wild Horse Freedom Federation continue to monitor the shipment of horse meat from Mexico into the Port of Houston, and then on to other countries. There are two important reasons we are doing this. The first has to do with Texas statutes and the second is related to the recent EU decision to ban Mexican horsemeat.

Texas Ag. Code 149 is a 1949 law that makes the shipment of horse meat illegal in the state of Texas. This is the same law that in 2007 closed down the plants in Texas and the same law that made American Airlines cease shipping horse meat from the two Texas plants. Attorneys have researched the issue and believe that once again this state law is being broken.

An official AG’s opinion from the Texas Attorney General’s office is clear-cut: these shipments violate Texas law. We are working closely with the Harris County (Houston) District Attorney’s office to try to gain compliance.

[https://www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/opinions/opinions/49cornyn/op/2002/htm/jc0539.htm]

Secondly, the EU food safety ban of horse meat from Mexico took effect January 15. We have been carefully monitoring the shipments through the Port of Houston to determine the effect of the ban on the export of horse meat from Mexico. Since 87% of horses slaughtered in Mexico and shipped to the EU are American, we expected a sharp decline in shipments. This decline would logically be consistent with a sharp decline in the number of American horses exported from the US to Mexico for slaughter and shipment to the EU.

The number of US horses exported to Mexico for slaughter has gone down since the EU ban took effect, but not nearly as much as expected. USDA data shows that in the four weeks since the effective date of the ban, fewer horses have been shipped to Mexico from the US for slaughter compared to last year. However, the reduction thus far seems to be no more than 10% to 20%, far less than the hoped for 87%.

We must, however, realize that the plants may have had an order backlog with non-EU countries and that they could keep their volume up for a while by clearing this backlog. There are some indications that this may be at least partially the case given the most recent reports, but only time will tell.

The last shipments from Mexico prior to the EU ban were not scheduled to arrive in Antwerp until the 16th of February. All of the eight containers were shipped through the Port of Houston in violation of Texas law. Intermeats and Empacadora De Carnes De Fresnillo are listed as the shippers.

Questions remain. Has the EU food safety ban been fully implemented? What will be its longer term impact on the export of US horses? Are other non EU markets taking the horse meat banned by the EU as unfit for human consumption?

What we do know is that two shipments were dispatched from Mexico in early February, after the effective date of the EU ban. The shipments from Empacadora De Carnes De Fresnillo were consigned to non EU countries, Russia and Vietnam. We anticipated continued exports to these two countries, as well as possibly Hong Kong, given pre-ban trade patterns.

Slaughterhouse boss admits charges over UK horsemeat scandal

Sources: Multiple

Peter Boddy, 65, admits to failing to abide by EU regulations concerning more than 17 horse carcasses

Abattoir owner Peter Boddy (right), who is the first person to face jail after admitting criminal charges connected to the horsemeat scandal. Photograph: Justin Tallis/PA

A slaughterhouse boss is the first person to face jail after admitting criminal charges connected to the horsemeat scandal which rocked British supermarkets in 2013.

Peter Boddy, 65, admitted one count of failing to abide by EU meat traceability regulations concerning more than 17 horse carcasses. The charge carries a maximum sentence of two years’ imprisonment.

At an earlier hearing, Boddy – who runs a slaughterhouse in Todmorden, West Yorkshire – pleaded guilty to failing to comply with food-traceability regulations which state the source of meat should be traceable from field to fork.

He admitted selling 50 horses for meat but failing to keep proper records to show who bought them.

There is no suggestion that buyers did not know they were purchasing horse meat. Prosecutors said they did not know where the meat might have ended up.

Wearing a khaki hunting jacket and clutching a deer-stalker, Boddy stood in the dock at London’s Southwark crown court on Wednesday and pleaded guilty to the second count.

The slaughterhouse’s 54-year-old manager David Moss, admitted forging an invoice concerning the number of horses sold in a transaction on 12 February 2013.

But he denied failing to comply with food-traceability requirements for more than 17 horse carcasses between July 2012 and February 2013, and the charge was left to lie on file, as well as a charge of failing to comply with EU meat-traceability regulations. The pair will be sentenced on 23 March at Southwark.

Judge Alistair McCreath released them both on unconditional bail, saying: “I tell you now that I have reached no view whatever as to the right sentence, no preliminary view, no settled view, nothing.

“I say that so that you understand that by granting you bail and ordering reports, I don’t give you any indication.

“So don’t run away with the idea that I have given you any kind of hint, any kind of indication or promise, what is going to happen.”

In a separate prosecution, slaughterhouse bosses Dafydd Raw-Rees and Colin Patterson, from Wales, will stand trial on charges arising from the horsemeat scandal.

They both deny 19 counts of selling goat falsely labelled as lamb shanks, lamb trim and mutton.

The pair, who worked at Tyne Parc, Llandre, in Dyfed, Wales, also deny failing to comply with food-traceability requirements.

Their company, Farmbox Meats Limited, is believed to have gone into administration and stopped operating.

The pair will stand trial at Southwark crown court on 18 May.

EWA Pres: “Is the horse slaughter battle over?”

Open Letter from John Holland ~ President of Equine Welfare Alliance

“We must continue to work toward a federal law to remove equines from the food chain forever…”

Dear EWA member,

President of the Equine Welfare Alliance ~ John Holland

President of the Equine Welfare Alliance ~ John Holland

I like to take this opportunity each year to let you know what we think we can expect in the New Year. First, there is no doubt that 2014 was the year of the horse and there is a very real potential for 2015 to mark the end of the slaughter of US horses! The two big developments were, as you know, the inspections defunding and the EU ban on Mexican horse meat derived largely from US horses.

Inspections defunding

Last year at this time, we were facing the threat of up to four horse slaughter houses opening in the US, but I told you that it was not going to happen. I knew that to be true because Victoria McCullough and Joseph Abruzzo had kept us informed for months on the progress of the spending bill, but for obvious reasons we could not disclose anything until it was a done deal. We also told you that defunding would last through at least the 2015 budget, which it has.

An apology

In last year’s message, I also said that I thought Blair Dunn (attorney for Valley Meats) knew that his client’s dream of opening a horse slaughter house in New Mexico was fading fast and that some of the strange statements he had made in the press were merely posturing to position his client to sue for damages over being delayed.

Shortly thereafter Mr. Dunn sent me an email threatening to sue me for liable over that statement. I now realize that I was mistaken, and that Mr. Dunn was neither as knowledgeable nor as clever as I had assumed him to be and that my speculation that his posturing was a result of either quality was totally unfounded. I wish to take this opportunity to apologize for that error.

If there are any doubts that D’Allende Meats, the latest incarnation of Valley Meats, is destined to meet a similar fate, consider this. Even if inspections funding was to be restored, and even if they got a discharge permit, and even if the USDA gave them a grant of inspection (all unlikely in the near future), the USDA itself is not certified to inspect for the EU and they would have very limited market opportunities. Worse, the EU is now aware that the US has no system of traceability on drugs administered to horses and their ban on Mexican horse meat was as much about US horses as it was about Mexican slaughter.

The EU ban on Mexican horse meat

Finally, the EU has listened and taken action banning the import of US horse meat from Mexico, albeit a decade after first being contacted about serious food safety and humane issues.

While inspections funding and the lack of discharge permits kept the US plants from opening, the announcement from the EU that they would not accept horse meat from Mexico after 1/15/2015 has several impacts. It should drive down Mexican slaughter of our horses, and it is a fantastic card to play in the politics of Washington and elsewhere.

As we all know, Mexico has customers for its horse meat other than the EU. So we all wanted to know what percentage of their horse meat goes to non-EU countries. We are very fortunate to have great researchers who prefer to avoid the limelight. One obtained records of all horse meat sent by ship, and just recently the other was able to navigate the labyrinthine web sites of the Mexican government and obtain the totals for sea and air exports.

We found that only about 22% of their total recent exports have been going to non-EU countries. The largest is Russia with about 13.2% (When we had only the seaborne trade numbers, this number looked like about 6.6%). Interestingly, the next largest customer is Vietnam with 6.2%. This was a surprise and is almost identical to the percentage that France had been importing. Switzerland is next with about 5.3%.

There has been a lot of speculation about China, but they accounted for less than 1%, though Hong Kong was taking about 4%.

We expect that Mexico will be forced to drop its prices to attract more customers if they hope to make up their shortfall. We have found that Canadian plants like Natural Valley lost money for several years before throwing in the towel, so it may take a while to know what their new business model will look like. Meanwhile, we will track the exports and find ways to warn the remaining foreign consumers of what the EU/FVO found in their audits.

The next shoe to drop will be Canada. There is speculation that horse meat from Canada may also be banned, though there is a possibility that they will impose astrict 6 month quarantine. Quarantine would, however, not bring Canada up to the standards the EU places on its member country suppliers since some drugs (e.g. phenylbutazone) are banned from ever being given to a food animal. All of these measures will at the very least make the business much less profitable, and if anything less than a ban is imposed, we must expect the cheating that has been the rule with the EIDs (Equine Identification Documents) to continue.

Is the horse slaughter battle over?

No, we cannot assume that it is over, but with the strategic use of a powerful public relations firm to get the facts and the EU’s decision into the media,this may well be the beginning of the end. Now is the best possible time for slaughter to end as I explained in my recent article in New Zealand Horse Talk magazine.

We will be watching the number of horses going to Mexico closely, as well as Mexico’s exports of horse meat. We must also continue to work toward a federal law to remove equines from the food chain forever.

What can we expect from the pro-slaughter side?

We think that we can expect the pro-slaughter folks to go back to their play book of spreading stories about how the sky is falling without horse slaughter. When the US plants were closed in 2007, they started a campaign to publicize stories of abandonment and neglect.

In 2007 advocates undertook a major research project, fact checking every story in every state and found every article was either a complete fabrication or a mammoth distortion. We published a document called “Deleting the Fiction” (see also the full report) in which we documented what we found and the sources we used. I have to say, the Associated Press was the worst offender. Then as now, they seem totally unwilling to review or retract stories even when they are proven to be completely false. This tells us that we need to have powerful help with our media operations.

Most shockingly, the slaughter supporters even managed to get a deliberately distorted report out of the GAO that misrepresented data out of Colorado to supposedly prove that abuse had gone up 60% after the plants closed. So it would be a mistake to underestimate their reach.

Interestingly, the entire strategy of claiming severe unintended consequences backfired because it deals with equine welfare, not food safety, the issue of most concern to the EU. Even so, it has been their strategy for so long that they will likely continue to use it. We should all watch for these stories and check them out. If they are false, we need to have our PR machine respond quickly to get the facts into major news outlets.

I can say that 2015 promises to be an exciting year, and we intend to work harder than ever. The successes of the past year were not the exclusive work of one group or another. They were the result of all of us all working together. Keep up the great work.

And sadly we must go forward without one of the most effective legislators ever to champion animal welfare, Jim Moran. We all owe him a debt of gratitude and wish him the best in his retirement.

In closing, let me paraphrase what Chris Hedges said about fascists. We don’t fight horse slaughter because we think we will win. We fight horse slaughter because it is horse slaughter. In the end we will win this fight because we will accept no other outcome.

Happy New Year,

John Holland, President

Click (HERE) to download in PDF format

December Full of Christmas Cheer for American Horses

OpEd by R.T. Fitch ~ Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Quietly, while most Americans made plans for holiday festivities several major milestones occurred this month that will enhance the safety and security of American equines during the upcoming new year. The activities of salvation seemed to occur unnoticed but we at SFTHH and WHFF want you to be well informed and perhaps even celebrate a bit over what has occurred.

First, Congress passed the Omnibus Bill on December 13th. The bill is a package that includes parts of the fiscal year 2015 appropriations bills and will fund most government agencies and programs until the end of the fiscal year Sept. 30, 2015.

The legislation included language that prohibits the USDA from using any funds to provide inspectors at meat processing facilities that slaughter horses, continuing an effective block that has been in place since 2005, except for a brief period in 2012-13.

No horse slaughter facilities are operating in the United States, and the bill will prevent any such facility from opening until Sept. 30, 2015.

The language was included in the omnibus bill because both the Senate and House Appropriations Committees adopted amendments that prohibited funding for inspectors at horse slaughter facilities when they debated and approved their respective versions of the 2015 USDA appropriations bill. Many thanks to those who lobby on behalf of our horses in Washington D.C..

As a bonus the bill also contains a provision that would prohibit the Bureau of Land Management from euthanizing healthy wild horses in its care or from selling wild horses or burros that result in their being processed into commercial products. Small step forward for the wild ones but a move forward none the less.

Secondly, and this may be the final death blow to the predatory business of horse slaughter, the European Commission has suspended the import of horsemeat from Mexico to the European Union (EU) due to food safety concerns. We equine advocates have tried to stay focused on the issue of food safety for years and it appears that such perseverance has finally paid off.

Effective Jan. 15, the commission has suspended a residue monitoring plan that tests for the presence of horse meat in other imported meat products, according to Aikaterini Apostola, press officer for health for the European Commission, during a recent published interview.

“Such suspension results in a ban of the import of horse meat, meat preparations, and meat products from Mexico,” Apostola stated in an email. “The measure has been taken after repeated negative outcomes of the audits carried out by the Food and Veterinary Office of the Commission’s Health and Consumers Directorate General in Mexico, the last of them in June 2014. This last audit also showed that many of the corrective actions that Mexico committed to take following previous audits were not yet taken.”

A key issue for the 28-member commission was inhumane treatment of the horses being shipped from the United States to Mexican slaughterhouses.

Michael Scannell, director of the Food and Veterinary Office, addressed the issue Nov. 30 at a European Parliament Intergroup meeting in Brussels by stating;

“In general, the worst contraventions we know are in relation to transport,” Scannell said. “By way of example, we will publish a report in the next number of weeks in relation to Mexico where we saw animals which arrived dead from the United States or non-ambulatory, i.e., they weren’t even able to stand.”

The transportation problem is also expected to affect slaughter operations in Canada, according to Scannell, who added the commission is close to imposing a “six-month” rule for Canada.

“So, in both cases, this will make it a lot more difficult — impossible in the case of Mexico, difficult in the case of Canada — to continue importing horses from the United States for subsequent export of horse meat to the European Union,” Scannell said.

So as you can see, American equine advocates truly do have something to celebrate this holiday season and we can look forward to the new year with vigor and anticipation as we push towards resolution the outstanding issues which still plague our American horses, both domestic and wild.

By “keeping the faith” we are trotting into a new era for our horses and donkeys…keep up the great works and take a moment to bask in the afterglow of these two great victories.

Thanks to all who work so hard for those who cannot speak for themselves.  You are very special, indeed.

 

European Union suspends Mexican horsemeat imports

south-america

SOURCE:  Canadian Horse Defence Coalition

The European Commission has implemented a conditional ban of the import of horsemeat from Mexico following a series of audits by the Food and Veterinary Office. The audits consistently identified serious problems with the lack of traceability of horses slaughtered for EU export with origins in the United States and Mexico, particularly regarding veterinary medical treatment records.

Please continue reading this exciting development here.

 

EU Close to Banning Horse Meat from Mexico

published by our good friends at HorseTalk

“There are relatively few establishments approved for export of horse meat to the European Union”

Texas to Mexico Slaughter Pipeline ~ photo by Julie Caramante

The European Union (EU) is close to imposing a ban on the import of horse meat from Mexico.

The director of the Food and Veterinary Office of the European Union Commission, Michael Scannell, revealed that a ban was close when he addressed the recent European Parliament’s Intergroup meeting in Brussels.

He also voiced concerns around some of the serious welfare issues identified around the long-haul transport of horses from the United States to Mexico, saying some animals arrived dead or unable to stand.

He also revealed that stricter conditions would make it harder for Canada to export meat to Europe that was derived from horses imported from the US…(CONTINUED)

Click (HERE) to read the rest of the story and listen to audio from the meeting

Horsemeat from US is a ‘Health Risk’ to French

as published in The Local – French news in English

A French animal rights’ group claimed on Thursday that horsemeat imported to France from North and South America comes from animals treated with a dangerous drug that’s banned from human consumption.

Poison_Sign_LHorses from the United States, Canada and other countries in the region whose meat is sold in France for human consumption pose a health risk and are often cruelly treated, a leading animal rights group said on Thursday.

L214, which derives its name from an article in a 1976 French law that stipulates that animals have to be kept properly and in healthy conditions, said the conclusions followed a wide-reaching, two-year investigation launched in 2012.

Horses from the US, Canada, Mexico, Uruguay and Argentina destined for human consumption were found to be emaciated, sick, injured or had been administered strong doses of anti-inflammatory medicines, according to the findings.

Using secret cameras, the probes were conducted at horse auctions, in export enclosures, at veterinary checkpoints, feedlots and abattoirs.

In a video posted on L214’s website, horses are seen with open gashes, dislocated or broken legs, and left without treatment in feedlots.

Some are visibly dead and in a state of decomposition, in enclosures or in transport trucks, with other horses squeezed around them.

“Apart from the unacceptable treatment of the horses, the use of phenylbutazone or other dangerous substances banned in the European Union is common,” said L214’s Brigitte Gothiere.

The drug, commonly referred to as bute, is used to alleviate pain in horses that are not destined for human consumption. It was originally also given to humans to treat rheumatoid arthritis and gout but was found to cause irreversible liver damage when combined even in small doses with other human painkillers.

The drug is no longer approved for human use in the European Union and United States.

The revelations follow a Europe-wide health scare last year when horsemeat was found in millions of ready meals labelled as containing only beef.

The group called Thursday upon leading supermarket chains to shun horsemeat coming from the Americas to put an end to the “cruel and illegal treatment” of
the animals.

It carried out the study in conjunction with other animal lobby groups including Switzerland’s Tierschutzbund-Zurich, Animals Angels’ USA, Belgium’s GAIA and Eyes on Animals in the Netherlands.

According to the groups, 82,000 horses were slaughtered in Canada in 2012 for human consumption. About 70 percent of them were imported from the United States, where horse abattoirs were closed down in 2007.

France, meanwhile, imported 16,900 tonnes of horsemeat in 2012, mainly from Canada, Belgium, Argentina, Mexico and Uruguay — many of the countries featured in the investigation.

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Happy Birthday, Horsemeat Scandal

Source: By Eve Mitchell as published in foodandwaterwatch.org

“…if you’re going to buy heavily processed foods you need to know this stuff –”

Horsemeat on a bunIt’s been a year since we were first told the beef we buy in the EU may actually be horsemeat, but we still don’t really know what happened, how far it spread, who is responsible, or how they will be called to account for themselves.

We’ve seen a smattering of arrests, notably the September 2013 arrests of eight managers of the French company Spanghero on charges of aggravated fraud and mislabelling of food products. French authorities say they “knowingly sold” 750 tonnes of horsemeat mislabelled as beef. Around two-thirds of this went to French firm Comigel’s Luxembourg subsidiary Tavola and found its way into some 4.5 million products that were then sold again to 28 companies operating in 13 European countries. This may be the source of the tainted Findus “beef” lasagne (100% horsemeat) found on UK supermarket shelves.

Sound complicated? It is, but if you’re going to buy heavily processed foods you need to know this stuff – unless you’re happy to just pinch your nose and swallow.

Justice is elusive. Accused of netting some €500,000 over six months of fraud (£425,000 or US$681,000), Spanghero had been stripped of its operating license in February 2013. It then closed in June, changed managers, sacked nearly 60% of its workforce, renamed itself La Lauragaise, refinanced and was trading again by the end of July – protesting its “innocence” all the way. Then came the arrests in September. The company’s new tagline “Saveurs des terroirs” (“The flavours of the land”, with heavy overtones of traditional cultural quality) feels like a bad joke.

Flagship arrests, while welcome, are not enough. Supermarkets sold us this stuff but are not feeling the heat. The UK Parliamentary inquiry into the affair quizzed supermarket bosses, pointing out to Tesco that it is “notorious” for rejecting misshapen apples but somehow managed to miss the fact that products labelled beef were actually up to 29% horse. The Tesco representative attempted to blame consumers, saying the company does what they want, but this didn’t wash with the committee, which retorted, “You obviously don’t [do what your customers want] on horse.”

The inquiry pressed that if beef is trading at a premium to horse, and with “unscrupulous people out there, as obviously there are,” surely supermarkets should watch cheaper products more closely. Tesco said each of its suppliers is scrutinised with the same ”rigour” (Tesco does one DNA test per year at each meat production site). Horsemeat was still being found in Tesco products as late as June, but as the Food Standards Agency only reports results over 1%, for all we know horsemeat is still masquerading as beef all over the place. At this stage it isn’t in anybody’s interest to say differently, and consumers have to take what they can get.

Supermarkets sell UK shoppers 80% of our food, so when they fail us, it is a big deal. Tesco pleads innocence, saying its supplier used unapproved suppliers further down the chain. The Committee’s July 2013 report concluding its inquiry said while some retailers may have been misled, the big ones “need to ‘up their game’”, and the costs should rest on companies, not consumers. The inquiry concluded, “Retailers and meat processors should have been more vigilant against the risk of deliberate adulteration,” instead of taking everything “on trust”. The Committee continued, “We are dismayed at the slow pace of investigations and would like assurance that prosecutions will be mounted where there is evidence of fraud or other illegal activity.” That was in July 2013.

So what has the UK Government done? Testifying before the inquiry in January 2013 Minister for Agriculture and Food David Heath MP announced a wide-ranging review of the crisis, but the report was kicked into the long grass and is not due before an unnamed point in 2014, with actual action who knows when after that. Meanwhile the inquiry heard the Government is proposing to decriminalise food labelling violations amid a declining number of public analysts and labs able to carry out food testing and budget cuts to the local authorities responsible for food testing.

UK Secretary of State for Food and Farming Owen Paterson said of the horsemeat scandal: “I think we came out of it very strongly.” On addressing the scandal he said, “Firstly we are bound by the rules of the European market,” although this is a notable departure from his feelings in other areas (Paterson calls Europe’s rules on GM food “medieval” and compares them to “witchcraft”). The annual review of his department showed that fewer than a third of his staff have confidence in managerial decision making and fewer than a quarter think their management have a clear vision of the future. They are not alone.

Some say all this is proof that “Big Retail has government in an armlock”. It sure feels like they have shoppers under the other arm.

On 14 January 2014 the European Parliament passed a motion on food fraud that “deplores” that it has never been an EU enforcement priority and reiterates that “the retail sector has a special responsibility to guarantee the integrity of food products”. With supermarkets claiming innocence and the UK Government playing “hurry up and wait,” maybe the EU can force some action on our behalf.

Click (HERE) to comment directly at foodandwaterWATCH.org

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Horsemeat Scandal Prompts Plan for EU Fraud Crackdown

Source: Reuters – Reporting by Charlie Dunmore; editing by Rex Merrifield

New rules would force member states to impose fines equal to the financial gains from proven cases of food fraud

Testing Horse MeatBRUSSELS  – The European Commission proposed more unannounced inspections of food companies and tougher fines for labeling fraud on Monday, after the discovery earlier this year that millions of Europeans ate horsemeat labeled as beef.

If approved by EU governments and lawmakers, the new rules would force member states to impose fines equal to the financial gains from proven cases of food fraud, officials said.

Unidentified criminal gangs blamed for Europe’s horsemeat scandal are believed to have made huge profits by substituting millions of tons of cheap horsemeat for more expensive beef in products including meatballs and lasagne.

EU governments have in the past been reluctant to agree to minimum financial sanctions mandated by Brussels, but the Commission believes the desire to reassure consumers in the wake of the horsemeat scandal could swing the debate.

“Crime must not pay, but if the penalties are low it does pay,” EU consumer commissioner Tonio Borg told a news conference to present the plans.

Penalties for the type of labeling fraud used in the horsemeat scandal vary from state to state. A conviction in Britain may draw a jail term of up to two years, while in France the maximum penalty is a fine of 187,000 euros ($245,000).

The proposals would also force governments for the first time to carry out a minimum number of unannounced inspections on food operators, to check that the contents of their products match what is written on the label.

Europe’s horsemeat scandal broke in January when horse DNA was found in frozen burgers sold in Irish and British supermarkets. ($1 = 0.7624 euros)

Click (HERE) to join the Conversation