Vets call for ‘horse passport’ register as meat scandal gallops on

stallion

EurActiv,com / February 19, 2013

Kaufman 020

Horses waiting to be slaughtered at Dallas Crown, Kaufman, Texas

As the horsemeat-dressed-as-beef scandal continues to rock Europe’s food industry, a number of organisations are calling on stricter European regulation, including an EU-wide horse passport register.

The Federation of Veterinarians of Europe (FVE) said creating a centralised record of horse passports would prevent the issuance of duplicate passports, thereby curbing the risk that horses banned from slaughter enter the food chain.

There is no evidence that eating horsemeat in itself poses any health risk, but veterinarians give horses drugs which are banned from human consumption.

“A main reason for deciding to exclude a horse from being consumed as food is that this allows the animal to be treated with a wider range of veterinary products”, the group said in a statement.

Following tests, the UK’s Food Standards Agency found traces of the drug phenylbutanzone, or bute, in eight dead horses, three of which may have entered the food chain in France.

The FVE said bute was banned for human consumption due to its “unacceptable side effects”.

In some EU countries the substance is authorised for use in horses under the condition that the treated horse will never be slaughtered for consumption.

Despite the revelation that only seven of 2,500 new tests on processed meats in the UK came out positive for horsemeat, a survey published on Monday by the Consumer Intelligence research company said the horsemeat scandal had shocked shoppers into buying less meat.

More than 65% of respondents said they trusted food labels less as a result of the scandal.

“Our findings show that this scandal has really hit consumers hard, be it through having to change their shopping habits or altering the fundamentals of their diet,” David Black, a spokesman for Consumer Intelligence, said.

European agriculture ministers on Friday (15 February) decided to approve a DNA testing system to ensure pre-prepared dishes contain the same meat ingredients as those stated on the label. The European Commission will provide 75% of the funding for the plan, which will begin on 1 March throughout the EU. The Commission will make the results public.

Retailers under scrutiny

Amidst the ongoing scandal, the European Economic and Social Committee, an EU consultative body, on Monday (18 February) called for regulation preventing retailers from imposing overly strict obligations on suppliers.

Analysts have blamed the horsemeat scandal in part on the pressure large retailers place on suppliers to provide cheap meats. Faced with the economic crisis, some companies may have viewed horsemeat as an irresistible solution to cut costs since it currently trades at one sixth of the price of beef.

“The abusive and anti-competitive practices which large retailers impose on their food suppliers reflect a lack of any real contractual freedom. As a consequence, the inability of certain suppliers to meet the requirements of large retailers and the resulting economic difficulties are contributing to the decline of the agro-food sector in several countries”, the EESC said in a statement.

AUTHOR: Jerry Finch
3 Comments
  • sherriey

    my own opinion is….that ‘passports’ will not stop the ‘bad’ meat from coming in…b/c…as everyone knows…laws are for honest people….but the dishonest people always find a way around them to do as they want for their own gain. there will counterfeit ‘passports’ made and bad meat will continue to be imported and sold.

    February 20, 2013
  • Jo-Anne Ward

    The $$ cash based $$ entire horse meat industry is a hidden but disgusting, dirty business that must end. Old school farmers are often even more guilty than some of the newbies in the business transporting in over crowded trailers. Last night on CTV, the Daily
    Show with Jon Stewart had a segment on horsemeat scandals going on now world wide.
    Horse head sticking out of KFC chicken bucket.
    Not funny at all, just pathetic!

    February 20, 2013
  • I agree, Jo-Anne, people seem to think this is funny. It’s not.

    February 21, 2013