The European Commission should swiftly suspend the import of Canadian horsemeat to the EU given serious traceability and food safety concerns, warns Dr Joanna Swabe.
Dr Joanna Swabe is the Executive Director for Humane Society International/Europe.
As the horsemeat fraud scandal fades in the collective memory of EU consumers and politicians alike, another horsemeat scandal refuses to go away despite continued health risks posed to EU consumers and concerns over animal welfare.
Each year, tens of thousands of horses from the US, where there is a minimal regulatory burden with regard to veterinary medical recordkeeping, are transported to Canada for slaughter for human consumption. These animals have not been raised for food production, but have been instead kept for companionship, recreation or sport. They endure long stretches of travel to the slaughterhouse without adequate veterinary care, food or water.
Their meat is then exported primarily to France and Belgium to be sold and distributed across the EU. It is a lucrative trade in horsemeat that revolves around a reservoir of cheap horses and comes with health risks and animal welfare concerns.
Last spring, a long awaited Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) audit of the Canadian horsemeat industry once again confirmed Humane Society International/Europe’s serious concerns about the reliability of the controls over both Canadian and US horses destined for slaughter and export to the EU. Previous FVO audits had highlighted serious veterinary recordkeeping deficits leading us to repeatedly warn the Commission that it cannot be guaranteed that horses have not been treated with substances banned for use in food animals.