Demand an import suspension of cruelly produced horsemeat from overseas!
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NGO investigations and EU audits carried out since 2010 have shown non-compliance with relevant EU requirements relating to animal welfare and traceability of horses in Argentina, Australia, Canada and Uruguay. Horses are systematically neglected and mistreated along the production chain of horsemeat. They are beaten, kicked and receive electric shocks. They are malnourished and exposed to extreme weather conditions in slaughterhouse pens and at assembly centres. Injured, sick and weak horses receive no veterinary care and are left to die unassisted. Currently, EU animal welfare requirements only apply to slaughterhouses. The assembly centres and transport are not covered by EU rules. Horses are transported over long distances without water, crammed together in unsuitable cattle trailers, and many do not survive the journey to the slaughterhouse.
For several years, NGOs have been providing evidence that the audits of the EU Commission and European importers are manipulated by horse dealers and slaughterhouse operators. For example, pregnant, injured, sick and emaciated horses are replaced or removed. The reports of the latest EU audits in Uruguay and Argentina state that the assembly centres were either empty or the horses had been exchanged shortly before the visit.
In the above-mentioned countries, horses are not considered to be food-producing animals and are commonly given drugs which are prohibited in the EU for use in horses destined for human consumption. The traceability systems in place are unreliable, as they rely on the honesty of horse owners and dealers, who give sworn declarations on the medical treatments in the six months prior to slaughter. In the EU, horses are microchipped and have a passport showing their medical history. In the export countries, they are tagged shortly before being sent to slaughter. Due to the lack of traceability, horses of unknown origin and with unclear drug history as well as stolen horses enter the food chain, which poses a high food safety risk for European consumers.
We call upon the European Commissioners Stella Kyriakides (DG SANTE) and Valdis Dombrovskis (DG Trade):
- to remove Argentina, Australia, Uruguay and Canada from the list of third countries from which the import of horsemeat is permitted, since these countries cannot guarantee compliance with the applicable EU animal welfare requirements;
- to require equivalent animal welfare standards in exporting countries – not only for slaughter but also for transport and assembly centres;
- and to suspend any horsemeat imports from countries where the traceability system used solely relies on declarations of horse owners and dealers.
A suspension of horsemeat imports from Mexico and Brazil has already been imposed, as a result of EU audits in these countries. Audits carried out in Argentina, Australia, Canada and Uruguay identified very similar concerns regarding animal welfare and food safety.
Please help us to urge the European Commission to immediately suspend horsemeat imports from third countries that do not comply with applicable EU requirements, such as Argentina, Australia, Canada and Uruguay.
Animal Welfare Foundation, Germany
Animales sin Hogar, Uruguay
Animals’ Angels, USA
Canadian Horse Defence Coalition, Canada
Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses, Australia
Fondation Franz Weber, Argentina
For the Animals, Uruguay
IHP Italian Horse Protection Onlus, Italy
Tierschutzbund Zürich, Switzerland
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