NGO investigations and EU audits have revealed massive problems with animal welfare and the import of horsemeat from overseas. The issue was discussed on an online event at the European Parliament which was organized by several NGOs and Eurogroup for Animals.
New video footage proves that horses are systematically abused, mistreated and neglected. Severely injured and sick horses do not receive veterinary care or euthanasia. Downer horses are pulled off the trucks with chains and left to die. In Canadian feedlots, newborn foals still freeze to death at temperatures as low as minus 36° Celsius. — Sabrina Gurtner, Project Manager, Animal Welfare Foundation
FOOD SAFETY AND ANIMAL WELFARE CONCERNS
Horsemeat imports from overseas have been criticized by international animal welfare organizations for many years. As a result, all Swiss supermarkets took horsemeat from overseas off their shelves. Several Belgian, Dutch and French retailers followed their example. In 2015, the biggest Swiss meat importer GVFI (Basel) also stopped these imports on the ground that the equines’ traceability is not ensured. Yet, around 17,000 tons of horsemeat from overseas continue to be imported every year to the EU and Switzerland.
An international animal welfare coalition, via a petition which has already gathered nearly 120,000 signatures, is currently calling on the European Commission to immediately suspend the imports of horsemeat from countries where EU requirements on food safety and animal welfare are not respected.
The EU suspended Mexican horsemeat imports, following issues similar to those that occurred in Uruguay, Argentina, Canada or Australia, and it led to a decrease in production and exports. Yet, now we witness an increase of Argentinian horsemeat imports into the EU, so any positive impact has been hindered by the lack of coherence of the EU approach on this dossier. The EU should send a clear message to its trading partners stressing that respecting the rules matters, and suspend imports where requirements are not met. Then, it should use its trade negotiations to incentivize progress and only restore imports if rules are respected . — Reineke Hameleers, CEO, Eurogroup for Animals.
The most recent EC audit reports on horsemeat production in Uruguay and Argentina confirm “serious questions about animal welfare at the time of killing”. The same EU audit reports also indicate that the audits did not reflect the everyday situation. “The inspections are announced in advance and slaughterhouses and horse dealers have developed a system to mislead the inspectors”, explains Gurtner. Footage recorded by NGOs shows that pens are emptied before the audits, or that sick and injured horses are exchanged with healthy animals.
Carlos Godoy Nava, manager of the Packers of Carnes de Fresnillo SA de CV, informed that since 2014 they stopped exporting equine meat to the European market, because there were no regulations guaranteeing the origin of the animal, nor about the use of drugs.
Faced with this, the production of horse meat fell to 65 percent, so they requested the support of federal deputies to legislate rules for the transfer of animals and control of veterinary drugs, which is why it stopped the treaty.
He mentioned that although there are exports to Vietnam, Russia and Japan, what represented the European market was much more significant, which led the company to have a decline and had to lay off about 180 employees, so now They only have 100 workers.
Godoy Nava argued that "what is required to enter the market once again is to identify the traceability of animals, to guarantee from the origin of the animal to the final consumer, which is what worries the European market and the biggest thing to solve it is the control of veterinary medicines so that it is regulated and established a control that is credible and manageable at the national level and that guarantees the health of the products ".
He pointed out that it is not about taking care of only the health of Europeans, but that medicines should be controlled for the benefit of all those who consume meat.
In view of this situation, the federal deputy Eduardo Ron Ramos, who is president of the Livestock Commission, together with legislators Mirna Maldonado Tapia, Edith García and María Luisa Veloz Mayor, visited the facilities of the Fresnillo meat packer in order to establish work tables and take them as a solution through initiatives, to help not only this company, but the entire national meat industry.
Ron Ramos mentioned that the Livestock Commission of the Chamber of Deputies aims to give results to these issues, but emphasized that they can not be immediate, since projects and strategic points will hardly be worked on, that is, they will look for the solution so that they can become initiatives that support entrepreneurs.
He explained that the problems to stop exporting nothing have to do with the quality of the product or companies, if not that between the agreements of the governments were not fulfilled the regulations that established in the market of Europe and those that Mexico has, because They did not agree, so they decided to close the doors to Mexico to export horse meat.
The federal deputy president of the Livestock Commission emphasized that, although they barely investigate the real problems that exist in the export of horse meat, as a legislator has two options: establish initiatives and points of agreement, in addition to the management in the matter, so he asked for patience to this sector.
Source: NTR Zacatecas
While Mexico is unable to export horsemeat to the EU, they continue to export to other countries.
Many of the horses slaughtered for human consumption in Mexico come from the United States.
TAKE ACTION to help stop the live-export of American horses intended to be slaughtered >>
Federal lawmakers today introduced legislation to prevent the establishment of horse slaughter operations within the U.S., end the current export of American horses 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 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 horse meat, which can be toxic to humans due to the unregulated administration of drugs to horses. Because horses 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 (EU) 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.
Help Ban Horse Slaughter Nationwide! Contact Congress in support of the SAFE Act. Passage of the SAFE Act will not only ensure that predatory horse slaughterers can't reopen their doors here in the USA—it will also stop the trafficking of horses to slaughterhouses over American borders. Click Here to Take Action!
MONTH / yEAR