Day At The Track

Horse meat poisoning European consumers!

08:23 AM 07 Dec 2009 NZDT
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European horses sent to slaughter require a passport that chronicles every drug the horse has received since birth. Canada and the U.S. do not regulate nor track this information in equines and American horse meat is potentially poisoning European consumers.

Worse still, the American government is abetting the process. In 2008, 134,059 American horses were sent to Canada and Mexico for slaughter for consumption in the European Union with no regard as to the drugs they had received.

The EU is now insisting that the countries supplying this meat follow guidelines it issued in April, but it is apparently relying on the US and Canada for enforcement of an affidavit system.

For the past eight years, Congress could have ended the slaughter of American horses for human consumption in Europe. Despite strong bipartisan support, production agriculture has been allowed to stop the bills dead in their tracks preventing a vote on the floor of either one house or another.

On August 25, the Equine Welfare Alliance (EWA) and the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition (CHDC) issued a press release questioning the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) on how the European Commission (EU) guidelines issued in April would be enforced. The guidelines, issued to "third" countries outlined requirements for equines intended for food production, including a system of identity verification, a prohibition on banned substances and a minimum 6-month withdrawal period for drugs commonly used by American horsemen.

EWA has now learned the EU will accept affidavits from killer buyers and haulers employed by the offshore slaughter industry as proof that animals have passed the quarantine period.

It is inconceivable that the EU is prepared to trust the word of killer buyers and haulers, many with criminal records, to protect the health of European consumers. Currently, there is no mechanism in place to keep these profiteers honest.

The overwhelming majority of North American horses have received toxic wormers, drugs like phenylbutazone (PBZ), the "aspirin" of the horse world and even fertility drugs that can cause miscarriages in women - all banned substances in animals intended for food.

"PBZ is a known carcinogen and can cause aplastic anemia (bone marrow suppression) in humans", says EWAs Food Safety Subject Matter Expert, Dr. Ann Marini, Ph.D./M.D.

EWA's Vicki Tobin added, "If these animals were livestock, the USDA would never allow them to enter the food chain in the United States. I don't understand how our government is allowing Europeans to consume horse meat with banned substances."

CHDC's Sinikka Crosland said simply "Drug-free equine meat from these horses is not an attainable goal, and without any enforcement mechanism the proposed system will be totally ineffective."

This year, a bill to ban the slaughter of American horses for human consumption has been delayed until March to allow the GAO time to study the impact that the closing of the US plants may have had on horse welfare. The study does not even address the tainted meat Europeans will be allowed to consume. The EWA implores Congress to pass the legislation before it (HR 503 and S 727) and stop the export of our work, sport, therapy and companion equines to slaughter.

www.equinewelfarealliance.org

www.defendhorsescanada.org

John Holland

Equine Welfare Alliance

540-268-5693

john@equinewelfarealliance.org

Sinikka Crosland

Canadian Horse Defence Coalition

info@defendhorsescanada.org

250-768-4803

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