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July 31, 2014

EU Urged to Stop Importing Horsemeat from Non-EU Countries

  • Jennifer Kunz/HSUS

Four years after strict import requirements for products of animal origin entered into force in the European Union, Humane Society International is renewing its call to the European Commission to halt the import of horsemeat from outside the EU.

Joanna Swabe, HSI EU director, said “These EU import requirements look great on paper, but the implementation thereof by non-EU countries has been farcical. Humane Society International has repeatedly warned that the measures implemented by Canada and Mexico to prevent meat from horses treated with banned substances, such as phenylbutazone, from entering the EU food system are fundamentally flawed and highly susceptible to fraud. Even the European Commission’s own audits have highlighted this, which makes it all the more outrageous that they have failed to take action to suspend the import of horsemeat products that do not meet EU food safety standards.”

Mounting evidence suggests that this issue is not restricted to horsemeat from North America. Food and Veterinary Office audits in Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay [1] indicate that the measures implemented in these countries to prevent meat from horses treated with substances banned for use in food animals are also vulnerable to fraud. The drug treatment histories of horses slaughtered for export to the EU may also have traceability issues.

An investigative report on horsemeat imports recently produced by a coalition of European animal protection groups [2] corroborates HSI’s own findings, lending additional weight to our calls for the Commission to uphold its own import requirements for products of animal origin and to take urgent action to ensure that meat from horses that do not qualify for slaughter for export no longer ends up on EU consumers’ plates.


  • Since 31 July 2010, the EU has required that only horses with a known lifetime medical treatment history, and whose medicinal treatment records show they satisfy the veterinary medicine withdrawal periods, will be allowed to be slaughtered for export to the EU. 
  • Food and Veterinary Office audits in both Canada and Mexico conclude that the reliability and veracity of vendor affidavits with respect to the animal’s medical treatment history cannot be guaranteed with respect to horses with United States origin. 
  • HSI has recently submitted a petition to the new European Parliament urging it to take action to ensure that the Commission takes steps to protect the health of EU consumers by suspending the import of horsemeat from non-EU countries that do not meet EU import requirements. 

Notes for the editor

1.    All FVO audit reports can be accessed here: http://ec.europa.eu/food/fvo/index_en.cfm
2.    http://animal-welfare-foundation.org/index.php?id=483&L=1


Media contact:
Raúl Arce-Contreras: 301-721-6440, rcontreras@humanesociety.org    

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