The recent discovery of naproxen in Brazilian horsemeat has led Humane Society International/Europe to sound the alarm bell about the safety of horsemeat imports from outside the European Union. This substance, which is prohibited for use in food animals, was identified in horsemeat shipped from Brazil to Belgium.
An audit by the European Commission had previously identified major shortcomings in the production of horsemeat destined for export to the EU. It noted that the design and implementation of Brazil’s 2014 and 2015 residue monitoring plans for horses could not demonstrate that an equivalence to EU food safety standards could be guaranteed.”
Joanna Swabe, Ph.D., executive director of Humane Society International/Europe said: “For years, we have consistently warned about the threat that the export of horsemeat from non-EU countries poses to EU consumers. The detection of naproxen in Brazilian horsemeat demonstrates yet again that the Brazilian authorities are unable to ensure compliance with EU import requirements and that urgent action is needed to protect both animals and consumers.”
Brazil is a key supplier of horsemeat to the EU, with several thousands of tonnes being exported annually, primarily to Belgium, the Netherlands and Italy. It is therefore crucial for the European Commission to closely monitor the health risks to which EU consumers are potentially exposed. These substances are typically administered to horses who are not raised for food, entering the cruel slaughter pipeline following their life as companion or work animals.
Short of suspending the import of Brazilian horsemeat altogether, the European Commission should require mandatory testing for the presence of unauthorised substances for all horsemeat imports to the EU originating from Brazil.
- Since 31st 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.
- In 2014, the European Commission suspended the import of Mexican horsemeat imports owing to serious traceability and food safety concerns.
- More than 25,000 EU citizens joined HSI/Europe’s call to the European Commission to suspend horsemeat imports from non-EU countries that do not comply with EU food safety standards.