While the reasons given are many and varied for Canadian slaughter plants rejecting U.S. horses last Friday that came suddenly and with no warning, today the road to slaughter re-opened.
Clearly the slaughter of U.S. horses for human consumption will continue in Canada and Mexico where thousands are killed for their meat each week. On average, 60% to 70% of Canada’s overall kills to provide horse meat for overseas palates are U.S horses.
Perhaps it is now becoming clearer to more people in the U.S. that although horse slaughter is not taking place on home soil, their country is a major player in the thriving N. American horse slaughter industry.
What did we learn?
Alarmingly, through our own contact with employees at Bouvry’s because of recent events in Canada, they tell us without reservation that they believe horse slaughter will return to U.S. soil next year and this will be accomplished by Claude Bouvry himself. So instead of reining in the sale of toxic horse meat to European countries, the N. American horse slaughter industry intends to supply even more of it, using additional thousands of U.S. horses a week to do so.
Where is enforcement of EC regulations?
If the European Commission (EC) were serious about food safety, it would not be willing partners with N. American horse slaughter plants such as Bouvry’s in potentially poisoning its citizenry with toxic horse meat. Instead, the EC appears content to be lax with its policy of excluding horses who have received banned drugs such as the widely used phenylbutazone (bute) and clenbuterol from the human food chain.
The EC fail to implementing its food safety regulations in the case of N. American horse meat by allowing horse slaughter plants to set their owns terms on how they comply with its regulations.
In 2009, the Int’l Fund for Horses began lobbying the EC calling on them to bar N. American and Australian horse meat from entering its member countries citing its regulation that clearly states any horse who has received bute (for example) in their lifetime are banned outright from entering the human food chain.
What followed first was the EC recommendation of a 6-month quarantine of U.S. horses before allowing them entry to Canada or Mexico for slaughter for human consumption. However, Canadian slaughterhouses reacted quickly and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) successfully sold the idea of the failed Equine Information Document (EID) which would supposedly contain a slaughter horse’s full medication history. We see the results of this. EID’s are forged or non-existent. Canadian horse meat is testing positive for bute. EU-regulated plants in Mexico were cited with numerous violations, some shut down until they came into compliance.
Although the new proposed passport system the EC intends to put into effect in 2013 may on the surface appear to be an improvement over the CFIA’s impotent EID system, again compliance relies on the honor system. There is no honor in horse slaughter.
Additionally, U.S. horse breeders and owners are under no obligation to comply with EC mandates. Horses are not traditional food animals and not regulated as such in the U.S. Why should they bear the burden of proof considering their horse’s history considering fewer than 1% of an estimated 10 million horses in the U.S. reportedly go to slaughter for human consumption.
Americans hate horse slaughter.
Notwithstanding the above, sending horses to slaughter for any reason is unconscionable, inhumane and a gross betrayal of an animal who are highly valued members of American society. This sentiment is supported repeatedly whenever a professional poll or public survey is taken on the subject of killing horses for their meat both in the U.S. and Canada. The Facebook page called “We are the 80%” shows how high the number of people against horse slaughter typically is.
Through all of this, the quote that replays in my head is this one: “Just because there is a demand for horse meat does not mean we should or must supply it.” Knowing what we do, it is also highly irresponsible and lacking in integrity to do so.
How to stop it?
If looking to ban horse slaughter legislatively, we can only hope that the upcoming elections may have some impact in increasing the odds in favor of getting a law into place banning it across the nation.
We did not endorse either Presidential candidate last year and the outcome has demonstrated how right we were. We are not endorsing one this year either.
Insofar as runners for Congressional seats, please check their animal welfare record. There is a wealth of information online. If unsatisfied and you want more information, please consult the candidate’s local election office directly and ask them where they stand on the issue of horse slaughter. Take the same action at the State level if your local Representative, Assemblyman or Senator are in a battle for their seats.