Trailered Slaughter Horse. Google image.

Recent test shows Canada sending toxic horse meat to Europeans but on it goes

A Frenchman shopping for horse meat.
It is irresponsible for Canada to export horse meat for human consumption to Europe containing banned carcinogenic drug residues. It is equally irresponsible for the EU to continue accepting it and should admit their policies have failed and declare an outright ban on horse meat from the US, Canada and Mexico.

Updated. Horse advocates have long warned that toxic horse meat from slaughtered American and Canadian horses is ending up on the dinner tables of Europe.

In February 2010 a peer reviewed scientific study entitled “Bute and Slaughter Horses Toxicology Study” (pdf) branded USDA studies asserting U.S. and Canadian horse meat as chemically harmless as bogus.

Following extensive lobbying started by us, with European food safety activists later joining in, the EU issued sanctions requiring the quarantine of horses intended for the human food chain who had been administered a laundry list of prohibited substances. The most common among those drugs are phenylbutazone (bute) and clenbuterol.

However, an agreement was struck between the EU and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency that effective July 2010 documentation — the Equine Identification Document (EID) — containing the medical history of a slaughter horse intended for human consumption is all that would be required.

That policy is clearly failing which is clearly demonstrated in the findings described below.

The European Commission’s RASFF (Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed) reports in July 2012 that the

“unauthorised substances clenbuterol (0.0023 mg/kg – ppm) and phenylbutazone (0.0013; 0.0015; 0.0010 mg/kg – ppm) in chilled deboned horse meat and frozen deboned horse meat from Canada”

were found during routine testing. Source:

Last year there was this:

“In May of 2011 a report was released by the European Commission Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) regarding inspections of EU regulated plants in Mexico slaughtering horses for human consumption during the latter part of 2010.

“. . . . a number of serious infractions and actions taken were cited. Some of these violations that failed to meet EU regulations included; hygiene and water quality provided for the horses, non-traceable carcasses some of which were in contact with EU eligible horse meat, presence of EU prohibited drug residues, falsified sworn statements regarding veterinary medical treatment histories including cases of positive results for EU prohibited drug residues.”


Trailered Slaughter Horse. Google image.
Trailered Slaughter Horse. Google image.

So, the EU have stiffened requirements a bit. Or have they really?

Effective July 2013, the EU are demanding that all horses slaughtered for human consumption at EU-certified plants in countries that export horse meat to Europe must have a veterinary record listing all medications they have been given during their lifetime.

This new regulation if enforceable would render nearly all American horses ineligible for foreign slaughter.

However, if the EID system currently in play in Canada can be forged, absent and not even asked for at the slaughterhouse door, then what makes this procedure any different or more effective?

Have these officials ever seen how slaughter horses are transported in, and by whom? The drivers employed are not always stellar characters, and it is highly doubtful they are going to know what paperwork goes with what horse.

It is very similar to USDA stickers that fall off during the dangerous journeys these horses made in deplorable conditions in the U.S. We have been told they just stick them back on to a horse who does not have one. They also take them off dead horses and put them on live horses who have lost their stickers. You see just how unreliable it all is.

A horse slaughter plant worker in Canada told Tuesday’s Horse a few weeks ago that it is nearly impossible to keep accurate records of how many horses show up, their gender or what breed they are, never mind what drugs they have been given in their lifetime.

“Nobody cares”, he told us. “The only ones you get much of a look at are the downers because you have to drag them in. The other horses, they get them in there and kill them so fast. The plant manager usually figures it out by how many pounds of horse meat get produced and so then, how many horses would that take. Then he weighs that up against how many horses they have bought off the middlemen and makes the numbers work out.”

So under the new EU requirement, veterinary records for each of them will be demanded, right? He just laughed.

“Nobody’s going to look too hard, I guarantee. If you got it fine I guess, but no matter. Because there’s horses to be killed and money to be made. Got to protect the bottom line.”

EU Commission Building. Google Image.
EU Commission Building, Brussels, Belgium. Google Image.

We tried to get a Commissioner to go on record, but were only able to get a blind quote. In it she stated to a colleague of ours in the UK that there would be regular, annual unannounced inspections at all EU-regulated plants where horses were slaughtered for export to EU countries, and a single infraction would mean a complete shut down.

The Commissioner added that if the U.S. were to open any horse slaughter plants they would have to be EU regulated before they would accept horse meat exports to member countries.

In the meantime, legislation banning the slaughter of horses for human consumption sits idle in both the Congress of the United States and the Parliament of Canada.

Despite best efforts, it seems pretty obvious that the United States and Canada are not going to take the right and ethical step and ban horse slaughter any time soon, so why doesn’t the European Commission say enough, and declare an outright ban on the import of horse meat from the United States, Canada and Mexico?

Because, as the slaughter man said, there’s horses to be killed and money to be made. Got to protect the bottom line.

Horse meat is ugly.

14 thoughts on “Recent test shows Canada sending toxic horse meat to Europeans but on it goes”

  1. I hope “the people” who consume MEAT learn the real truth SOON, Shoshone. Every day counts for these animals.


  2. Beef and chicken are full of drugs as well. To keep an animal or bird alive in a factory farm situation, they have to have drugs added to their food and water because it is a totally unnatural way for them to live.

    Our fruit and vegetables are sprayed to make them grow, to kill bugs and to have them come into harvest at one time. Gasoline is so high priced it is cheaper to spray weeds.

    Consumers have to become more aware of what they are eating. The Europeans think they are eating meat from wild horses that roam free and eat only grass.

    Many people in Canada still don’t know horses are butchered here by the thousands and their meat shipped to Europe. Once the people who consume the meat learn the real truth the market will dry up.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You are right Jane. It is a sham. What’s the difference between requiring an EID or veterinarian certificate listing drugs for slaughter horses? No compliance=poison horse meat any way you look at it.

    We have exhausted every remedy: Congresses — State and Federal — Parliaments, Commissions, the UN, regulatory agencies … every authority that has any say so over horse meat consumption.

    The problem is there is a demand for it and there is lots of money to be made supplying it. Maybe now people will begin to see how visionary the “Horse Meat is Ugly” campaign is. We will do it all by ourselves if we have to.

    The non compliance factor, and the toxic horse meat aspect, is just another string in our bow in turning the public against consuming it.


  4. The sad part is that the EU directive is seriously flawed.

    It is not just NA horse meat that is toxic, It is pretty much ALL of the horse meat imported to the EU that is.

    All one has to do is look at the slaughter industry in any country. In the majority of cases these horses are exactly what NA horses are: sport horses or companions, all laced with bute and clenbuterol for example. Ireland, England, Australia, South America for example. Just think about it. Who in the world apart from a few obscure areas raise horses for meat.

    Who are they kidding?????

    What a total sham.


  5. Common sense said that when the notice went out to the other six countries that eat this stuff, just like here in the US all of the horse meat that came from Canada was pulled from stores and this is public information. The consumer was told to either bring the meat back to the store for a refund or throw it out. But the EU labs must have come up with a more sensitive testing method for locating these particular drugs with their knowledge that the majority of the Canadian meat is coming from the US. Like I have said before once US horses stop supplying the slaughter plants most of them will shut down. Canada cannot supply enough horses to support four slaughter plants unless every horse breeder in that country starts breeding for slaughter which is unlikely. Horse breeders, cattle ranchers and every person connected with the meat industry turned down flat any method of tracking what vet drugs their animals were given here in the US, this was a few years ago. So it’s going to be interesting to see how all of this shakes out.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We have staff in Belgium, France and Italy and supporters in those three countries plus Sweden, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Germany …. Not one recall notice; nothing in the papers or on the telly. The EU do not care any more than the US or Canadian gov’ts do. If they did not force Canadian plants to comply with the EID by shutting down as they said they would do, then they will act the same with this new Vet Certificate scheme. All slaughter animals given Bute in their lifetimes cannot EVER enter the human food chain; it never totally dissipates, leaving carcinogenic residues throughout but esp in the organs.

      Liked by 1 person

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