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May 17, 2011

HSI Canada Condemns Irresponsible Promotion of Horse Meat on Food Network

Humane Society International/Canada

  • Horses should not meet a cruel end at the slaugherhouse. Jennifer Kunz/The HSUS

MONTREAL—Humane Society International/Canada condemns Food Network Canada for featuring horse meat as an ingredient on Top Chef Canada. The episode aired May 16 on Food Network amidst international outcry against horse slaughter.

“The Food Network’s decision to feature horse meat on Top Chef Canada is reckless and offensive,” said Lauren Scott, campaigner for Humane Society International/Canada. “The slaughter of horses for human consumption is inherently cruel and is a complete betrayal of these intelligent, sensitive animals. Many of the horses who end up slaughtered for food are raised as companion animals and are condemned to this horrific end following a lifetime of service to people.”

In a letter sent to Food Network Canada prior to the episode airing, HSI highlighted the grim realities of horse meat production.

Veterinary experts around the world and leading animal protection groups have concluded that horse slaughter is inhumane. En route to slaughter in Canada, horses are subjected to days on end in cramped trailers, without food or water. These magnificent animals are then often whipped and electro-shocked in overcrowded pens.

In the slaughterhouse, panic and the instinctive desire of horses to escape causes them to thrash frantically in the kill chute, making it difficult to effectively stun them prior to slaughter. A recent national expose documented horses in Canadian slaughterhouses being subjected to sharp blows to the head from the captive-bolt gun multiple times before they were rendered unconscious.

In addition to the blatant disregard for animal welfare in the commercial horse slaughter industry, horse meat itself poses a risk to human health. Horses are often purchased for slaughter through an auction house by “kill buyers,” which makes it impossible to know the full medical history of the horse. In Canada, veterinary records are not required for horses sent to slaughter for human consumption, and testing the animals prior to slaughter for any banned substances in their systems is inadequate. Given that horses are routinely administered drugs that are potentially toxic for humans, experts conclude that horse meat is dangerous to consume. Canadians have been exposed to the grim reality of horse slaughter through recent national broadcasts of undercover investigations. Even before those programs aired, polls showed that 64 percent of Canadians opposed horse slaughter.

Humane Society International/Canada calls upon its members and the public to contact the Food Network Canada and demand that the network pledge to never again feature horse meat in its programming.

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Humane Society International/Canada is a leading force for animal protection, representing tens of thousands of members and constituents across the country. HSI/Canada has active programs in companion animals, wildlife and habitat protection, marine mammal preservation and farm animal welfare. HSI/Canada is proud to be a part of Humane Society International—one of the largest animal protection organizations in the world, with more than ten million members and constituents globally—on the Web at hsicanada.ca.

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