Currently Canadian slaughter houses take in horses with unknown backgrounds – many from the United States, kill them and send them off to European tables. Since these horses are not raised like cattle for human consumption, they are full of all sorts of medicines that can cause long term health concerns. Slaughter of any horse should not be allowed. Horses have traditionally been our working companions and have no place on our dinner plate. The Canadian bill being discussed, C-571, will not stop horse slaughter in Canada. However it will curtail horse slaughter of the vast majority of US horses in Canada by forcing sellers to abattoirs to have documentation of all medications a horse has been given in its life time. Most American kill buyers do not have this documentation. As the article states, past history of equine medical documents are fraught with fraudulence which in the past did not have a great deal of oversight. ~ HfH
By: Ewa Demianowicz
For too long the Canadian government has overlooked the blatant flaws of this country’s cruel and predatory horse slaughter industry and the fact that horsemeat produced in Canada for human consumption poses serious health risks for consumers around the world.
Every year, Canada slaughters tens of thousands of horses raised here and imported from the U.S. and exports much of their meat for human consumption, primarily to the European Union. While the horse slaughter discussion usually focuses on the serious animal welfare concerns with transportation and slaughter, and rightly so, NDP MP Alex Atamanenko is calling attention to yet another serious concern with this industry: human health and safety.
Atamanenko’s private member’s Bill C-571 aims to close the loopholes of current horse slaughter regulations by requiring each horse sent to slaughter to be raised for human consumption and to be accompanied by a lifetime medical record.
The majority of North American horses are raised and treated as companion animals, not as food-producing animals. Unlike animals raised for food, horses slaughtered for human consumption are collected from random sources and the vast majority of them will have been treated or injected with multiple veterinary substances over the course of their lives. Many of these substances have been specifically prohibited for use in animals raised for human consumption. Although the Canadian Food Inspection Agency relies on Equine Identification Documents (EIDs) to determine whether horses have been administered prohibited drugs, the European Commission’s Veterinary Office has deemed these to be fraught with fraud. The EID is signed by the horse owner, often a kill-buyer who may have owned the horse for less than 24 hours, attesting to the animal’s medical history for the previous six months. In addition, some substances, such as phenylbutazone, are completely banned in food producing animals, regardless of when the substance was administered.
The EU is one of the largest importers of horsemeat from Canada. In an effort to protect EU citizens from drug-laced horsemeat, EU regulations require that horses presented for slaughter at EU approved slaughterhouses be accompanied by a lifetime medical treatment record that verifies the animal was never administered toxic drugs. However, Canadian slaughterhouses have no knowledge of where these horses came from or what drugs the animal has received throughout its life.
Bill C-571 is an improvement over current regulations that do not effectively prevent horses treated with banned substances from entering the food chain. It will protect consumers within Canada and abroad from potentially dangerous horsemeat, and will save countless horses from being slaughtered in Canada.