by CAHAL MILMO
Cross-posted from The Independent
The monitoring and tracking of horse numbers in Britain and Ireland is so lax that tens of thousands of animals may have been exported illegally and entered the food chain, experts have warned.
Officials at Aintree have been forced to deny that fatally injured horses could have entered the food chain
The Independent has also established that more than 1,100 racehorses were slaughtered in abattoirs in Britain in 2011, raising the risk that unscrupulous meat trade middlemen have diverted thoroughbreds for human consumption.
Officials at Aintree racecourse, home of the Grand National, have been forced to deny that fatally injured horses could have entered the food chain after it emerged that the owner of a Yorkshire abattoir raided and closed down this week on suspicion of supplying horsemeat to a Welsh processing plant has a contract to remove destroyed animals from the course. There is no evidence that the horses collected from Aintree entered the food chain.
Up to 7,000 unauthorised horse passports have been in circulation since 2008
Up to 7,000 unauthorised horse passports have been in circulation since 2008 after documents continued to be issued in the name of an organisation – The Spotted Horse and Pony Organisation – after it had its licence withdrawn. About 75 different organisations are authorised by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to grant the passports, which critics say makes the system chaotic and vulnerable to fraud.
Animal welfare campaigners said that up to 70,000 horses have been exported from the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland, some of them with records showing they are unfit for human consumption wiped clean with falsified documents.
One of Britain’s leading public health experts said that ministers were wrong to state that horsemeat poses no risk to human health.
Professor Hugh Pennington said that the potential involvement of back-street or poorly run abattoirs in supplying illegal horsemeat raised the danger of contamination by bacteria such as salmonella in processed food products:
“There are issues at the bottom end of the market with meat going under the radar, like the horse meat has been doing.”
bute found in eight out of 206 carcasses tested
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has sought to quell concern about the presence of a veterinary drug – phenylbutazone, or “bute” – in horsemeat that may have entered the food chain after it revealed that bute had been found in eight out of 206 carcasses tested in a seven-day period this month. Read more at independent.co.uk >>