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June 16, 2015

European Commission Urged to Suspend Canadian Horsemeat Imports

Humane Society International/Canada, Humane Society International/Europe

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The European Commission’s Food and Veterinary Office released an audit report raising serious concerns about the reliability of controls on horses slaughtered in Canada for export of horsemeat to the EU. Amongst other things, the audit confirmed that it cannot be guaranteed that horses, particularly those exported from the US, have not been treated with illegal substances during the six months prior to slaughter. Humane Society International issued the following press statements in response:

HSI’s EU Executive Director Dr. Joanna Swabe said:

“For years, Humane Society International has repeatedly sounded the alarm about horsemeat entering the food chain from Canada that does not fully meet EU safety standards. FVO audits have consistently identified serious problems with the lack of traceability of American and Canadian horses slaughtered for export to the EU, particularly regarding veterinary medical treatment records. It is high time that the Commission takes action and suspends all horsemeat imports from Canada.”

HSI/Canada campaign manager Ewa Demianowicz said:

“The blatant flaws of the cruel horse slaughter industry have been proven time and time again. The horsemeat produced in Canada for human consumption poses serious health risks for consumers around the world, and Canadian Food Inspection Agency regulations cannot guarantee that Canadian horsemeat is compliant with EU food safety standards. It is appalling that the Canadian government has still failed to ban this practice, despite these risks and documented flaws.”

In December 2014, the EU suspended imports of horsemeat from Mexico due to similar traceability concerns, particularly with respect to horses of US origin. In the US, veterinary medicine products and other substances banned for use in food animals are broadly administrated to horses and lifetime medical record-keeping is not mandatory or practiced.

HSI urges the European Commission to impose a moratorium covering Canada and any other horsemeat-exporting country to the EU that does not fully comply with EU food safety requirements.

  • Since 31st July 2010, the EU has required that the only horses allowed to be slaughtered for export within the Union are those with a known lifetime medical treatment history and medicinal treatment records that show they have not been treated with banned substances and satisfy the veterinary medicine withdrawal periods.
  • The latest Food and Veterinary Office audit in Canada concluded that it cannot be ensured that horses slaughtered in Canada for export to the EU have not been treated with substances, which are not permitted in the EU, in particular hormonal growth promotants.
  • HSI recently submitted a petition to the European Parliament urging action to ensure the Commission moves to protect the health of EU consumers by suspending the import of horsemeat from non-EU countries that do not meet EU import requirements.

Media contacts:

EU: Wendy Higgins, whiggins@hsi.org, +44 7989.972.423
Canada: Christopher Paré, cpare@hsi.org, 514 395-2914
US: Raul Arce-Contreras, rcontreras@humanesociety.org,  +1 301.721.6440

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