Horsemeat imports in regular breach of EU rules
The documentary, entitled “A Web of Lies”, reveals that eight years after the first investigation carried out by NGOs in Argentina, the severe abuses and neglect of horses destined for slaughter continue, despite claims that the situation has improved. The film also puts the spotlight on key shortcomings in ensuring the traceability of the horses.
Similar issues can be witnessed in several countries providing horsemeat to the EU, like Australia, Uruguay and Canada. Consumption and trade of horsemeat in the EU has overall declined between 2000 and 2015; yet, since 2017, EU imports of horsemeat from foreign countries have started to grow again, especially from Argentina. It is thus high time for the European Commission to address the concerns around these imports.
Eurogroup for Animals launches today a report presenting an overview on animal welfare and traceability-related issues encountered in key producing countries. The report puts forward the following recommendations in order to ensure better equine protection:
- All imported equine meat must comply with EU animal welfare standards at slaughter (which are currently the only applicable animal welfare requirements for imported meat).
- All imported equine meat should also respect other animal welfare standards applied in EU horse meat production (e.g. related to transport, in assembly centres and in horse feedlots). This means trade agreements should contain provisions on conditional liberalisation of horse meat imports (e.g. liberalised access to the EU market would be contingent on meeting equivalent welfare standards).
- Suspension of imports from countries if EU audits demonstrate a lack of enforcement of the applicable provisions of the regulation on welfare at the time of killing and traceability requirements.
- Allowing for the possibility of unannounced audits.
- Suspension of imports (e.g. from Mexico and Brazil) are not reversed unless the production meets the required EU animal welfare standards as confirmed by EU audits.
- Working to improve equine welfare outside the EU through cooperation on animal welfare with relevant partner countries (at present Argentina, Australia and Canada), using technical assistance where required.
- Greater traceability of horse meat products by introducing Country of Origin Labelling (CoOL) for fresh and frozen equine meat.
- Reduced consumption of equine meat and derived products (through member organisations reaching out to retailers and consumers).