Five crime gang arrests over unfit horse meat entering food chain

Horses nuzzle in Ireland.

Gardaí believe some animals have effectively been smuggled into the food chain

THE IRISH TIMES by Connor Lang (2 Jul 20) — Gardai have arrested five people as part of a lengthy investigation into horse meat unfit for human consumption entering the food chain by manipulation of safety measures. The five were held on suspicion of taking part in organised crime.

While horse meat is not widely consumed in Ireland there is a larger international market to which Irish meat is exported. Gardaí believe some horses that should have been slaughtered at the end of their lives, which were not fit for human consumption, have effectively been smuggled into the food chain.

When horses are unfit for human consumption a fee must be paid to have them destroyed. However, if a horse is deemed fit for human consumption, it would fetch a fee.

Members of the Garda National Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the serious crimes squad, on Tuesday arrested five men, aged between 35 and 55 years, for questioning at Garda stations in Longford and Roscommon towns and Carrick-on-Shannon, Co Leitrim.

They were arrested on suspicion of “participation in a criminal organisation” and were being detained under Section 50 of the Criminal Justice Act, which allows for suspects to be questioned for up to seven days without charge.

The inquiry being conducted by the Garda is about two years old and also involves the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and the Food Safety Authority of Ireland.

“These arrests are part of an ongoing investigation into a number of persons engaged in offences of organised deception and fraudulent practices, involving the tampering of identification passports and microchips of horses presented for slaughter in this jurisdiction,” Garda Headquarters said in a statement of Tuesday’s five arrests.

Just over 12 months ago gardaí raided farms, houses and commercial premises as part of the investigation. On that occasion some of the properties searched were linked to people gardai regarded as victims of the fraud rather than being part of it.

During those raids in June, 2019, a large quantity of documentation and other evidence was gathered for analysis, with today’s arrests effectively the next phase of the same investigation.

Every horse has a passport and is micro-chipped as part of a traceability system. However, gardaí believe fraudsters have been manipulating the system for profit.

In 2018, for example, a batch of microchips was seized en route to Ireland from China. They were from Eastern European horses that had died years earlier.

Gardaí and the Department of Agriculture believe the chips were about to be presented to abattoirs in an attempt to pass off some horses as being fit to enter the food chain, though they were not fit.

Horses receiving certain medicines during their lifetime, for example, would not be fit for use as food, but a new chip could allow such a horse to bypass the rules and be accepted.

When horses are unfit for human consumption a fee must be paid to have them destroyed. However, if a horse is deemed fit for human consumption, it would fetch a fee.

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Related Reading

Horses are Not “Its” , Fund for Horses

Horse slaughter and horse meat production worldwide — Introduction, by Jane Allin (March 2020)

Horse slaughter and horse meat production — A global perspective, by Jane Allin (March 2020)

Top 10 importers and exporters of horse meat worldwide, by Jane Allin (March 2020)

Top 10 countries ranked by horses slaughtered and horse meat production — 2018, by Jane Allin (March 2020)

NOTE: Thank you Jane for your stellar reports. We can never honour you enough for your hard work and contributions. — Fund for Horses and Tuesday’s Horse.

Venezuelans outraged by slaughter of racehorse for food

Venezuela racehorse slaughtered.

REPORTED BY THE NEW YORK POST (Jun. 13, 2020) — The grisly slaughter of a beloved racehorse is shining a light on just how desperate Venezuelans are for food as they struggle to survive their country’s economic collapse.

Ocean Bay, who galloped away with Venezuela’s most prestigious titles, was stolen and butchered Monday, sparking outrage that spread like wildfire across the country, The Associated Press reported.

“What a disgrace,” Ramón García, the stallion’s longtime trainer, tweeted. “This isn’t the Venezuela that I grew up in.”

Farmers and veterinarians have reported dozens of horses cut to pieces over the past few years as a recession has deepened into a depression. A UN World Food Program study earlier this year found one in three Venezuelans is going hungry.

The death of Ocean Bay hit particularly hard though, because of his fame and striking looks — a shining coffee-colored coat with an elegant white diamond-shaped streak on his face.

In 2016, the stallion snatched two of Venezuela’s three Triple Crown races. He sustained an injury but returned the next year to win five more races.

One illustrator posted portraits of Ocean Bay online; others blamed President Nicolás Maduro for letting the nation get into such a sorry state.

“This is painful for all of us,” Susana Raffalli, a nutrition expert who consults for relief agency Caritas Venezuela, wrote on social media. Read full article »

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US Rep. Steve King loses Primary

Republican Congressman Steve King. Getty Images.

King is not only a vile bigot but also a pro horse slaughter defender who worked vigorously on the Hill to defeat any and all attempts to ban it on U.S. soil. He was also a major player in blocking legislation outlawing the live export of horses for slaughter to Canada and Mexico. More on that down the page, but first this.

TRIP GABRIEL, writing for the New York Times, reports:

Representative Steve King of Iowa, the nine-term Republican with a history of racist comments who only recently became a party pariah, lost his bid for renomination early Wednesday, one of the biggest defeats of the 2020 primary season in any state.

In a five-way primary, Mr. King was defeated by Randy Feenstra, a state senator, who had the backing of mainstream state and national Republicans who found Mr. King an embarrassment and, crucially, a threat to a safe Republican seat if he were on the ballot in November.

The defeat was most likely the final political blow to one of the nation’s most divisive elected officials, whose insults of undocumented immigrants foretold the messaging of President Trump, and whose flirtations with extremism led him far from rural Iowa, to meetings with anti-Muslim crusaders in Europe and an endorsement of a Toronto mayoral candidate with neo-Nazi ties.

Good news for horses

King is pro horse slaughter and used his considerable influence in the nation’s Capitol to thwart any and all attempts to outlaw it. He and his allies were instrumental in rallying support to block virtually every American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act introduced.

In 2012 King was central to removing the defunding clause from the nation’s annual spending budget for federal inspections necessary to export horse meat which banned horse slaughter on U.S. soil.

King’s successful defunding paved the way for horse slaughter to return to U.S. soil, but horse lovers and advocates successfully thwarted every attempt to return it. The federal defunding clause was reestablished, and has been kept in effect in all subsequent U.S. budget bills, but not without a fight.

In 2017 when vigorous attempts were made to remove the defunding language for horse slaughter inspections from the federal spending bill, Phil Derfler, Deputy Administrator for Food Safety and Inspection Service, stated:

Open quote

There has been a lot of talk in the past week about Congress’ lifting of the ban prohibiting federal funding for the inspection of horses, which prevented the slaughter of horses for human consumption for the past five years.  The issue is understandably a sensitive and emotional one for everyone who loves these majestic animals, but it is important that the discussion be tempered with the facts.

“While Congress has technically lifted the ban, horse processing will not resume anytime in the near term.  Under the Federal Meat Inspection Act, horses are an amenable species, which means that horse meat cannot be shipped or sold for human consumption without inspection.

“To date, there have been no requests that the Department initiate the authorization process for any horse processing operation in the United States.  In the two states where horse processing took place prior to the Congressional ban, Illinois and Texas,  there are laws in place prohibiting the slaughter of horses.  Even if these laws were changed, any processing facility will still need to satisfy a significant number of requirements, such as obtaining  a federal grant of inspection, conducting a hazard analysis, and developing a Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Points (HACCP) plan prior to the processing of any animals.”

This statement has been the underpinning of our renewal of the federal inspection ban ever since.

Typical of King, he voted last year against the Prevent All Soring Tactics (PAST) Act, H.R. 693, a bill to crack down on the practice of “soring,” in which trainers deliberately inflict pain on the hooves and legs of Tennessee walking horses and related breeds to force them to perform an unnaturally high-stepping gait for competitions.


See our Horse Slaughter Legislative Timeline by Vivian Farrell and Jane Allin for a history of attempts to ban horse slaughter at the State and Federal levels. Go to Special Reports and scroll down to the Horse Slaughter Section. This is a unique and unrivalled resource. It begins in 1998 . . . .

See also the historic document “When Horse Slaughter Comes To Town” by Jane Allin which was instrumental in educating the public, and used by advocates, communities, State officials, lawmakers and businesses to work against horse slaughter from coming to their town.

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Featured Image: Getty Images

All the Queen’s horses. Where do they go?

Queens Horse. Royal Mews image.

Michael Clayton, reporting for the Horse and Hound writes:

Some 250 horses used by the Army in ceremonial duties in London have been enjoying an unscheduled holiday at grass in Leicestershire owing to the coronavirus outbreak.

They have been given their new home by Geoff Brooks and his son, Richard, who farm some 1,600 acres north of Melton Mowbray. They keep most of their the land down to grass to make Eurobale haylage. The horses normally work all summer from the Household Cavalry stables at Knightsbridge or the King’s Troop base at Woolwich.

Image by Geoff Brooks.

“We have been regularly taking some Army horses as guests from London in the winter,”said Geoff. “But this year, very soon after they had been returned to London, we received an urgent request to take them back for the summer as well. It is due to the cancellation of the horses’ ceremonial duties at the Trooping the Colour and other events, due to the virus. A few have been retained in London in case they are needed suddenly.

This is so lovely isn’t it?

But before we start feeling all warm and fuzzy, there is another story about the Queen’s horses. It dates back to 1969 when Army horses were routinely sent to slaughter, of the self same Household Cavalry.

Over-age horses from the Household Cavalry were sold to slaughterhouses. Credit: International Herald Tribune

The New York Times reported on it last November:

1969: Queen’s Horses Sold for Slaughter

Britain’s most famous ceremonial horses — those majestic steeds that carry the queen’s splendidly uniformed bodyguards — may be winding up as steaks in Continental restaurants.

A disclosure today that the Household Cavalry is selling its old horses to slaughterhouses aroused the fury of British animal lovers. The horses, ridden by troops and gold-trimmed trumpeters in plumed helmets, are feature attractions in the Changing of the Guard, coronations and all state processions.

A Ministry of Defense spokesman confirmed reports that some over-age Household Cavalry horses were being sold for slaughter. Few Britons would ever knowingly eat horsemeat, but it is a common dish on the Continent and that is where the carcasses are believed to go.

Top officials at the Ministry of Defense called an emergency meeting this morning to deal with the report, which began with a front-page headline in the Daily Mirror saying, “Queen’s Horses to Be Sold for Meat.”

Buckingham Palace kept aloof from the fray. A spokesman for Queen Elizabeth II said only: “It has nothing to do with us — it is an army matter.”

The Mirror said about 60 horses a year were retired from the Household Cavalry and from the Royal Horse Artillery.

Bloodthirsty crowd

That was then, this is now . . . . right? We are not convinced. Those who follow the Royal Family know they are a bloodthirsty crowd. They hold Shooting Parties in Scotland every year at which time they stalk and murder untold numbers of animals which are by all reports a full scale massacre.

These are the same hunts that revolted the late Princess of Wales who finally quit going, much to the consternation and disapproval of the Royal Family, and it said a contributing factor to her already crumbling marriage to Prince Charles. The Queen is quoted as saying, “Why can’t she just “buck up”?

Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge and heir to the British throne after Charles, stalks and shoots along with his father. His wife, the Duchess of Cambridge, also went hunting with her husband early in their relationship, but found it so revolting she followed in the footsteps of Princess Diana and bolted.

Prince Harry also made an attempt to join in. However, when he took up with Meghan Markle he was highly criticized by the Daily Beast in December 2017 calling him a “hunting hypocrite” and challenging him with, “The prince is engaged to a woman who has spoken out about animal cruelty and owns two rescue dogs. So why is he killing animals for fun?” This gave him the excuse he needed to exit the killing.

Speaking of Princes William and Harry reminds us of when the Queen’s husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, took the “boys” stalking to get their mind off things after they were told of their mother Princess Diana’s tragic death. Stalking? Really? That’s how you chose to console those grief stricken boys? With more killing and blood? We digress.

We must not neglect Camilla who loves horses and is an exceptional horse woman. It is said she does not take part in the annual mass massacre called the Royal Shooting Party. However, the Duchess of Cornwall is hardly averse to blood sport as she rides to hound (fox hunts) and reportedly revels in the kill at the end which she makes certain is reserved for her.

From the above, I don’t think we can make a case that any of the high ranking Royals would be against horse slaughter and could care less about how horses no longer required or no longer perform their duties are, shall we say, “dispatched”.

Are royal horses still being sent to slaughter?

So, are the Queen’s minions still sending royal horses to slaughter? Yes, we are told that they are. After telephone calls to several Army barracks most admitted that “some of these horses” are sent to a local abattoir. However, they would not disclose where, the name or how many. Later we received a call back where one tried to backtrack saying they, “had made a mistake” and “misunderstood the question.”

By the way, wasn’t it the Queen’s daughter Princess Anne who not so many years ago said that the country needed more horse slaughterhouses, not fewer?

The Princess Royal is also infamously quoted as saying that horse owners might take better care of horses if they believed they could sell them for meat, for which she was publicly savaged by animal lovers. How about this? Princess Anne even suggested that Britons should add horse meat to their diets.

She has calmed down on the subject quite a bit since then. Later, speaking at a yet another conference of the World Horse Welfare charity, the princess, who is president of the organisation, said: “Our attitudes to the horsemeat trade and the value of horsemeat may have to change.”

Just a little warning. Beware of “welfarist” organizations when it comes to animal protection. The only way to get rid of animal cruelty is to abolish the practices that lead to it, not try to make it so animals don’t “suffer as much”, as if that somehow mitigates the abuse.

Where and how many are slaughtered?

It is difficult to track how many horses are exported from the UK for the purposes of slaughter or killed in abattoirs on home soil. All anyone seems to have is an estimated figure but the horse’s destination or breed type is not recorded. Huh? The UK has a passport system for this very purpose — to track horses in and out of the country — so what happened?

World Horse Welfare, a UK charity, stated in 2017:

“There have been no declarations of horses being exported for slaughter for many years; however, we question the reality of this as horses and ponies are exported for a variety of reasons and there is no way to guarantee that a horse declared as being exported for riding will not be sold at a market for meat. Until there is full traceability within and without the UK it is a challenge to truly know where exported horses end up and it would be difficult to enforce a ban on export to slaughter.”

“Our priority is to ensure that equines are slaughtered as close to origin as possible, so it may be that a maximum journey limit of 9-12 hours better protects the welfare of horses going to slaughter, as opposed to a ban on export at this current time.”

Perfect example of welfarism.

A racehorse owned by Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II that won the prestigious Gold Cup at Royal Ascot last year (center) has tested positive for the banned painkiller, morphine.

This is not just about ceremonial horses of course.

HM The Queen is a major breeder and player worldwide in the Thoroughbred racing industry. It seems HM’s own trainers are not above doping now which they wouldn’t dare do without her knowing. Shameful.

In the meantime, we have petitioned the UK Government directly for horse slaughter statistics. They politely responded, “we will try but we are not sure we how much we can help you.” A slammed door is a slammed door no matter who does it and how nice they are about it when doing it. We will have to wait and see. Hope springs eternal . . . right? Sigh.

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Images updated 27 May 20, 5:27pm