World Food Safety Day: what's at stake for animals?
60-75 % of human disease comes from wildlife disease transmitted to humans, in part by the wildlife trade and consumption. After they are shot in remote areas, the carcasses of kangaroos are eviscerated and transported in unrefrigerated open trucks, sometimes all night long, and under very high temperatures. In order to tentatively prevent Salmonella and E.coli contaminations, the carcasses are washed with lactic acid, although this isn’t an allowed practice for fresh game meat in the EU and does not fully eliminate contamination risks. Russia has banned imports of kangaroo meat based on these hygienic issues. Lead poisoning from the bullets is another health concern, also posing a serious environmental risk, as highlighted by recent ECHA reports on the restriction of lead ammunition in the EU. In this context, Eurogroup for Animals calls on an EU ban on imports of kangaroo products, including meat. You can sign our petition to support this call.
Despite the 2013 horse meat scandal, little has been done to prevent such food safety issues. In the EU, horses can be excluded from the food chain when they are administered substances making the consumption of their meat unsafe. However, recent Europol investigations revealed massive frauds with horses excluded from the food chain slaughtered and their meat distributed throughout the EU, highlighting the insufficiencies in the implementation of traceability requirements. We call on the EU to ensure the proper implementation of traceability requirements and to introduce Country of Origin Labelling for horse meat, indicating the country where the animal has been born, reared and slaughtered.
Besides horse meat produced in the EU, EU audits, NGO investigations, also summarised in the Stable to Fork report, and academic papers (see, for example, Weber et al., 2023), reveal severe shortcomings in the traceability and identification of horses slaughtered in third countries whose meat is imported into the EU. Veterinary medical treatments are not properly recorded leading to horses that were administered banned drugs, such as phenylbutazone, to enter the food chain. It is important to note that equine traceability requirements implemented in the EU do not apply to animals whose products are imported.
Reducing meat and dairy consumption
Highly contagious diseases, either emerging or endemic, in animal populations such as Avian Influenza, African Swine Fever or, more recently, COVID-19 stress the need to build more resilient and sustainable societies.
How we produce and consume food has an impact not only on animals but also on public health,environment, people and climate.
An increased focus on animal welfare can play a key role in finding solutions to many of the current global food safety challenges we are facing. De-intensifying animal production by reducing the numbers of animals coupled with better animal welfare will improve animal health and welfare and contribute to reducing the risk of future pandemics.