CFIA reporting system for slaughter horses flawed and unenforceable

Horses in a pen awaiting slaughter for human consumption.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency Equine Information reporting system is clearly flawed, unenforceable and will not prevent adulterated horse meat from entering the human food chain as indicated by the recent prosecution of a woman who forged medical history documents to sell her horses.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) reporting system of equine health histories including a complete record of medical treatments administered for the six-month period prior to slaughter is flawed, unenforceable, and does not comply with the EU directive effective July 31, 2010, prohibiting equines treated with banned drugs from entering the human food chain.

EU Directive Regarding Slaughter Horses

In 2009, the Int’l Fund for Horses began alerting the European Parliament of the fact that horse meat exported from North America to EU member countries is adulterated because of the presence of Phenylbutazone (Bute) among other medications “not for use in horses intended for food” which are routinely given to equines in the United States and Canada.

Rather than ban the import of adulterated horse meat from Canada and Mexico, the EU responded with a new directive that requires equines from North America be quarantined for a period of six months prior to slaughter for human consumption.

The CFIA have devised a system of merely reporting horse health histories, instead of quarantining them, as ordered by the European Union’s recent directive regarding slaughter horses in North America.

Effective July 31, 2010, it will be mandatory for all facilities under the aegis of the CFIA slaughtering horses for human consumption to have an Equine Information Document completed by owners.

— Source: Edited iFH Press Release

Wisconsin Woman Fined for Forging Horse Health Documents

A Boscobel, Wisconsin, woman has been fined for selling horses without testing them for disease and forging documents claiming the tests had been done, the state veterinarian’s office said.

In a plea bargain, Carol Swenson pleaded no contest to one charge of altering animal health records and one charge of selling an untested equine animal.

According to the case file, Swenson sold three horses at a sale in LaValle in 2007. The buyer noticed that the report he received named a veterinary clinic but was not signed by a veterinarian, and contacted the clinic. A staff member from the clinic notified the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection that no one in the practice had tested these horses. Further investigation showed that no official test was on file with the Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, either. At that point, the Department asked Sauk County District Attorney Patricia Barrett to file criminal charges.

“Our animal health laws are in place to protect public health, animal health, and our livestock industry,” said State Veterinarian Robert Ehlenfeldt, DVM. “Failing to do the tests is serious enough, and in this case threatens the entire horse industry in Wisconsin. Falsifying documents compounds the problem.

— Source: Edited Press Release

This is an incident where the offender was caught and prosecuted, and a clear indicator that CFIA cannot rely on the integrity of its Equine Information Document.

What We are Doing

The Int’l Fund for Horses have advised the European Parliament of this incident which clearly indicates the CFIA Equine Information Document is unworkable, requesting that they place an immediate ban on the import of horse meat from North America and Australia, and calling on the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to order an immediate halt on the slaughter of equines in Canada.

iFH are also putting horse slaughter facilities in Mexico and Australia on notice.

2 thoughts on “CFIA reporting system for slaughter horses flawed and unenforceable”

  1. This is an important point, and I hope you keep reminding them of this until the CFIA does something about it. I live in the US and I KNOW our horses are not fit for human consumption.

    I don’t want to see people in the EU eating tainted meat. I also don’t want ANY American horses slaughtered. If we can’t get our own Congress to pass laws ending horse slaughter for good, I guess we’ll have to let the EU do it for us.


    1. 7 out of 10 Americans polled — in some cases even higher — are opposed to horse slaughter. iFH worked on anti horse slaughter legislation for 5 years with no success, so decided to change our strategy. Although hardly ideal, it is still a step forward. We get the impression if the CFIA plan worked, the EU was going to ask Mexico to implement a similar one. Perhaps they would then have done the same with Australia, who have increased horse meat production considerably over the past few years, and like the US, give their horses many banned medications for slaughter animals.


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