Import and production of horsemeat under cruel conditions must stop


Import and production of horsemeat under cruel conditions must stop

6 July 2023
The latest investigations by the Animal Welfare Foundation (AWF), Animals’ Angels USA and Tierschutzbund Zürich (TSB) reveal the mistreatment of horses slaughtered in Canada and Uruguay for European consumption. Thanks to these investigations, and in collaboration with a coalition of animal protection organisations, we are calling for an end to the import and production of horsemeat derived from cruel treatment.

Horsemeat from Canada

Half of the horses slaughtered in Canada come from the United States. EU meat export rules require American horses to be kept in feedlots for six months before slaughter to gain weight. This results in numerous health problems (painful hooves, metabolic diseases, ect.). 

In the course of our on-site investigations we found on several occasions that horses were limping, suffering from laminitis and had died as a result of their illnesses or injuries,” explains Sabrina Gurtner, project manager at AWF. Mares and stallions are mixed. They also take in pregnant animals. “The chances of foals surviving in the feedlots are slim. We have found foals that were sick in summer and froze to death at birth in winter,” recalls Sabrina Gurtner.

Horsemeat from Uruguay

In a recent two-year investigation by AWF and TSB, conducted in parallel with a pre-announced EU inspection, all three EU-certified slaughterhouses in the country were subject to overt and covert observations before, during and after the EU visit. “Our research shows that the EU audits are manipulated through extensive preparations,” reports Sabrina Gurtner. 

What is particularly striking is that only a fraction of the horses are in the slaughterhouse pastures during the audits. “They’re placed in green pastures, sheltered from the weather. But that’s not the reality before and after the inspection visits. Once the inspectors have left, the horses are sent back to dusty, dirty fields, often without roughage and sometimes even without water.” Workers were also observed, beating the horses when the audit was over.

Problem: traceability and food safety

Together with AWF and the other members of the coalition, we condemn the inadequate traceability of horses in meat production abroad. There is no identification system for horses. The last owner, usually the horse dealer, provides information on the medication and origin of the horses he sells to slaughterhouses. “People rely on the honesty of the sellers. This paves the way for systematic fraud and puts EU consumers at risk,” criticises Sabrina Gurtner. 

These investigations clearly demonstrate that animal welfare and traceability issues remain unresolved for the import of horsemeat from Uruguay and Canada. We therefore call on the European Commission to stop imports of horsemeat from these countries, as well as from all countries that do not comply with EU requirements.

Sign the petition - Demand an import suspension of cruelly produced horsemeat from overseas!

From stable to fork: EU Horse Meat Imports (updated version)

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