HSI: Horsemeat Isn’t Just a Cruel Trade; It Could Be Bad For Your Health

HSI: Horsemeat Isn’t Just a Cruel Trade; It Could Be Bad For Your Health : Humane Society International | Europe
December 6, 2012

HSI: Horsemeat Isn’t Just a Cruel Trade; It Could Be Bad For Your Health

HSI Poll Shows Consumers in Three EU Countries Support Ban on Horsemeat Imports

Humane Society International/Europe

The EU lies at the heart of the global horsemeat trade. Jennifer Kunz/HSUS

BELGIUM, Brussels—A survey conducted by Ipsos MORI on behalf of Humane Society International shows that most European consumers want a ban on imports of horsemeat from countries whose food safety regulations do not meet European Union standards. The majority of people surveyed in Belgium, France and Italy—the biggest EU importers and consumers of horsemeat—support such a ban (84, 73 and 85 percent respectively).

The poll also indicates a lack of consumer awareness about the origins of horsemeat. Most people across the three countries polled mistakenly assumed that horsemeat sold in their country originates either locally or from elsewhere in Europe. In fact, Europe imports a significant proportion of horsemeat sold here from abroad, importing 27,847,700 kg of horsemeat from third countries in 2011 alone. Vast quantities of horsemeat come from non-European countries, including Canada and Mexico, where most of the horses come from the United States. In the US, horses are not raised for human consumption and are therefore commonly given drugs and medications not intended for the food supply.

Most poll respondents said they never or only sometimes eat horsemeat, whilst only a very small percentage of those asked said they eat it frequently (3 percent of Italians, 4 percent of French and 6 percent of Belgians.)

“Killing horses for meat raises serious ethical questions wherever it happens in the world,” said Joanna Swabe Ph.D., HSI Europe’s director. “These sensitive animals can endure extreme distress and suffering during transport and slaughter, and Humane Society International is campaigning for a worldwide end to the trade. Horsemeat imported to Europe from third countries may also pose a risk to human health. Horses in the US are companion, race or work horses routinely given veterinary drugs banned for use in food-producing animals in Europe. Current measures are failing to stop these drugs from entering the food chain. Without assurances that third parties have implemented food safety systems that are equivalent to those provided for by EU legislation when processing horse meat originating from the US, HSI is urging the European Commission to protect EU consumer health by banning the import and sale of meat from these horses. ”

A 2010 EU regulation requires that only meat from horses with a known medicinal treatment history can be exported to the EU. However, there is mounting evidence that measures in Canada and Mexico are so flawed that they will continue to fail to meet EU standards.

The EU lies at the heart of the global horsemeat trade. Each year, hundreds of thousands of kilos of horsemeat are produced domestically within the EU, or shipped to EU Member States from countries such as Canada, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico and Uruguay. However, an investigation conducted by HSI reveals that many EU consumers may be completely unaware of the origin of horsemeat or that they are buying horsemeat at all, due to inadequate labeling.

The full report on the investigation showing the availability of horsemeat in Belgium, France and the Netherlands can be downloaded here [PDF].


Media contact: Wendy Higgins, +44 (0)7989 972 423, whiggins@hsi.org


1. The Ipsos MORI poll was conducted in Belgium: 23—31 July 2012, 1,000 respondents aged 18+; France: 20—24 July 2012, 1,012 respondents aged 18+
 Italy: 24—27 July 2012, 1,000 respondents aged 18+

Results for Italy: 35 percent thought most horsemeat sold in Italy originated from Italy; 20 percent from elsewhere in the EU; 10 percent from another European country; 6 percent from outside Europe; 29 percent said don’t know.

Results for France: 25 percent thought most horsemeat sold in France originated from France; 32 percent from elsewhere in the EU; 5 percent from another European country; 12 percent from outside Europe; 25 percent said don’t know.

Results for Belgium: 23 percent thought most horsemeat sold in Belgium originated from Belgium; 14 percent from elsewhere in the EU; 5 percent from another European country; 15 percent from outside Europe; 43 percent said don’t know.

Results for Italy, France & Belgium respectively:
Have eaten horsemeat at least once: 62 percent; 67 percent; 67 percent
Consume horsemeat often: 3 percent; 4 percent; 6 percent
Consume horsemeat sometimes: 11 percent; 16 percent; 20 percent
Have never and would never eat horsemeat: 34 percent; 28 percent; 28 percent

2. Data on EU27 imports of meat of horses, asses, mules or hinnies, chilled or frozen (020500) from Canada, Mexico, US, Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Australia and New Zealand extracted from Eurostat database , EU27 Trade Since 1995 By HS6. Accessed 13th August 2012.

Humane Society International/Europe and its partner organizations together constitute one of the world's largest animal protection organizations — backed by 11 million people. For nearly 20 years, HSI has been working for the protection of all animals through the use of science, advocacy, education and hands-on programmes. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty worldwide—on the Web at hsieurope.org.
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Drugged Horses on Dinner Menu?

Drugged Horses on Dinner Menu? - Wayne Pacelle: A Humane Nation

Drugged Horses on Dinner Menu?

The export of North American horses to Europe for the meat trade has found its way into the headlines, for reasons other than animal welfare. And rightly so — the industry poses a potentially serious risk to human health and safety.
Horse transport to slaughter
Kathy Milani/The HSUS
Tens of thousands of American horses are slaughtered
for human consumption each year.
American horses, whether companion animals, show horses, pleasure horses, or race horses, receive a myriad of veterinary drugs throughout their lifetimes. Race horses, as reported by Joe Drape in the New York Times, are often given drugs to enhance their performance — including painkillers, phenylbutazone (anti-inflammatory drug a.k.a. “bute”), clenbuterol (bronchodilator) and other legal and illegal drugs. Although many of these drugs carry the warning “Not for use in horses intended for human consumption” this warning is virtually meaningless since American horses do not have lifetime medical records.
In addition, almost all American horses receive common veterinary drugs, such as bute, which have been deemed so dangerous that there is no acceptable withdrawal period. That means that if a horse receives a drug such as bute even once in his or her life, that animal should never be slaughtered for human consumption. In the absence of lifetime medical records, it is impossible to guarantee, regardless of where they are slaughtered, whether a horse is free of banned or potentially dangerous substances.
Each year, more than 100,000 American horses are sucked into the slaughter pipeline by unscrupulous killer buyers, who then ship them to slaughterhouses in Canada and Mexico. These horses are required by law to be free of specified drugs for six months. It is widely acknowledged, however, that there is a high level of fraud involved with the equine identification documents. International government audits have confirmed these findings. For instance, the European Commission’s 2012 audit of EU-approved equine slaughterhouses in Mexico noted that there are significant problems with the identification of live horses and the sworn statements by the owners on medical treatments.
There are many reasons to oppose horse slaughter, including inhumane long-distance transport and cruel and clumsy slaughter practices. If altruistic concerns won’t get the job done, then perhaps naked self-interest will. No consumer, and no regulatory agency, should sanction trade in any kind of meat potentially laden with such contamination and obvious health risks. And with polling results from Humane Society International, released last week, that show overwhelming support in Belgium, France and Italy for a ban on horse meat imports from countries such as Mexico and Canada that do not meet EU food safety regulations, this is not an impossibly heavy lift on the political side.
The bottom line is that horses are not raised for food, but they are used in a variety of industries and settings where substances that are forbidden or potentially dangerous for human consumption are injected or fed to them. To protect American horses, consumer health and food safety, both here and abroad, we hope that U.S. and European Union public health officials take rapid and serious measures to protect human safety by deeming American horses unfit for human consumption.
Duchess Horse Sanctuary
Duchess Horse Sanctuary (Photo credit: Marji Beach)

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A Sickening Ending - What If This Were YOUR Horse?

re-blogged from Shedrow Confessions ~
A Sickening End « Shedrow Confessions

A Sickening End

January 11, 2013 by shedrowconfessions

As we are all well aware, the biggest reason for slaughter given by the PSA (Pro-Slaughter Advocates) brain trust is that it is a way to deal with `unwanted horses’. According to them, slaughter keeps all these mystical beings from wandering the streets and becoming a menace to society and a drain on our tax dollars. Of course PSAs like Naughty Tobiano want us all to believe that kill buyers are just super nice guys trying to earn a living. They would never send good horse that had a use to slaughter. Instead, they just hang out at sales and pick up all these unwanted horses and `recycle’ them for a new purpose. Doesn’t that just make you all warm and tingly inside?


Do you see the horse above? He was slaughtered at Les Viandes de la Petite Nation January 8, 2013. He was anything but unwanted. His name was Backstreet Bully and he was originally bred and owned by Adena Springs and raced under Stronach Stables. As many of you are aware, Adena Springs is owned by Frank Stronach and they have been leaders in the movement in finding new careers for retired racehorses. They have an entire division devoted to retired racehorses and have taken this commitment very seriously. Backstreet Bully wasn’t a great racehorse but he was graduate of their program. Here is the write up about him from the Adena Springs Retirement Program prior to him being sold:

“Backstreet Bully is a kind 4 yr old, 16hh OTTB chestnut gelding. He was retired from racing September 2008. He is a solid loving horse with tons of puppy dog personality. He’s got a great sound mind, willing attitude and is very well mannered; he just loves to be loved. He has been ridden both english and western walk, trot, canter and hacks out quietly both alone and with company. We have started basic Parelli training with him. Backstreet bully will make an excellent pleasure horse. He has no vices or bad habits. He trailers, cross ties, clips and is never a problem for the vet or blacksmith.”

Somewhere along the line, something went badly wrong for Backstreet Bully and he ended up in a kill auction. Details about what happened are still coming out, but every effort was made by Transitions Thoroughbreds and Adena Springs to save this horse. This is a quote from Transitions on their Facebook page about what happened at the sale:

“He was pointed out to me at the auction by an employee thereof as she knew I was there to buy tbs – I tried to buy him – my bid was not taken, perhaps not seen – I tried to buy him after from the kill buyer and was told no – he was meat only. He was not eligible for slaughter and it begs the question of why the very person who does the paperwork on every horse running through that auction would specifically point him out to me and describe him so that I could bid on him at that sale to buy him would do that if he was meat only as that would be something she would need to put on that kill sheet. He was NOT announced as meat only either in the sale ring. I tried to stop it again, I got no response, I contacted his connections who ARE on my list of people who most definitely do NOT want their horses going to slaughter and they took immediate action. His faxed drug records clearly proved he was not eligible. Everybody knows that all tbs have most definitely had at least bute amongst other drugs if they have raced – he was not eligible and he was killed for nothing!!”

I’m still trying to patch together all the details from various postings I have seen, but I do know this much…. this was not an unwanted horse and this was not a horse that should have been slaughtered for meat or any other reason. This horse was still alive when his drug records were faxed to the slaughter-house. The slaughter-house was well aware they were in possession of a horse not suitable for slaughter for human consumption and that there were people wanting to bail him out. Remember, PSAs tell you it’s all about not wasting the unwanted horse’s meat. Well this horse was far from unwanted and he was most certainly not suitable for human consumption, but Les Viandes de la Petite Nation went ahead and slaughtered him anyhow just because they could. What purpose did that serve? The response of the CFIA vet in attendance at the slaughter-house, after she was informed of this horse’s drug status was “We (LPN) would have a lot of horses here and what would we do with them all?” I gather that statement was in reference to how many horses they have that are not suitable for human consumption. What DO they do with them all?


I have no personal connection with any of the people involved with Backstreet Bully and his sad end. If they choose to come forward and fill in some details, that’s great but I will leave it up to them. They are heartbroken over this and I don’t know what more they could have done. I haven’t seen the name of the person who adopted Backstreet Bully nor do I know if it is the same person that dumped him at this auction. What is important is that despite the fact that this horse should have never been at that sale in the first place, he seems to have been slaughtered out of spite. People tried hard to rescue this horse. They tried to buy him in the ring, they tried to buy him before he went on the truck. They informed the slaughter-house, backed up with vet records, that this horse should not be in a slaughter pen and they still went ahead and did it just because they could. Yeah, kill buyers are great guys and slaughter is just for horses that nobody wants. Rest in peace, Backstreet Bully. We won’t let them forget you any time soon……

You bet we won't! Are YOU with us? This could just as easily been my horse or YOURS.
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"From my earliest memories, I have loved horses with a longing beyond words." ~ Robert Vavra