by VIVIAN GRANT FARRELL
For those who eat horse meat, you will never really know how safe, or how toxic, it is.
The reason is that the documentation containing a horse’s medical history demanded by slaughterhouses is so easily forged. In some cases, it is allegedly absent altogether.
A whistle blower pointed out that a slaughter horse without the necessary paperwork can be given the documentation of another slaughter horse who was killed during transport, or died in a feedlot. This is just one example. They are all very easy to do.
Why do slaughterhouses require a horse’s medical history before killing him for his meat, particularly for human consumption? The answer is because of the laundry list of drugs a horse may be administered through his lifetime that can make his meat lethal for humans to consume.
Documentation systems, such as the Equine Information Document required by EU-regulated abattoirs in Canada and Mexico, or the passport system relied on in Europe and the United Kingdom, are conducted on the honor system almost exclusively by kill buyers, the middlemen who acquire the horses. Who monitors this? You could ask the same concerning the agents and officers charged to enforce their government’s regulations in these matters. Are they left to operate on the honor system too? It would appear so.
As we have seen demonstrated time and time again, there is no honor in slaughter.
One glaring case in point is the alarm last year by Canadian slaughter plants who decided to reject trailer loads of U.S. racehorses ostensibly because of the amount of banned drugs they are given. Yet at the same time Canadian slaughter plants blithely accepted their own racehorses who were likely given, at the very least, two of the most common drugs that bars their meat from entering the human food chain, namely phenylbutazone (bute) and clenbuterol (clen).
Because of the latest horse meat scandal, toxic horse meat is back in the news.
In an article entitled “Horse meat in burgers might not be as harmless as you think“, Camilla Smith, reporting for The Spectator blog, reminds us of some unpalatable facts concerning horse medication documentation.
In 2012 Defra [Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs] withdrew funding from, and thereby forced the closure of, the National Equine Database, which held the passport details of every horse in the United Kingdom. A horse’s passport contains details of all drugs ever administered to that horse, some of which could leave the horse flesh unfit for human consumption. But the loss of the database has meant that it could now be possible for a horse to have two passports –- one with the correct details of its medical history, and one which appears to be ‘clean’ when the horse is ready to be slaughtered.
Ireland has the same problem. In May 2012 the Sunday Times reported that Irish horses with forged passports were stopped en route to an English abattoir, with the article stating that ‘hundreds [of horses] are being sold to abattoirs using forged passports’.
Wherever horses are bred, there are tons and tons of horses slaughtered or exported for slaughter for human consumption, which means there are tons and tons of potentially toxic horse meat imported, exported and eaten.
For anyone who thinks that any sort of documentation program will stop or even slow down the slaughter of horses for human consumption, we are sorry to dash your hopes. No government authority, no matter what country, is serious about the issue of toxic horse meat — they only make empty policies that make them seem to be. If any decision maker were truly serious about this issue, they would ban the horse meat trade altogether. There is only one surefire way to end it, and that is for people to stop eating horses.