European Commission Deals Another Blow to North American Horsemeat Trade

By on June 17, 2015 with 24 Comments By Wayne Pacelle

A European Commission audit released this week warns that horsemeat imported from Canada does not fully meet European food safety standards. A similar audit from the Commission last year found similar problems with horsemeat from Mexico – most of it from American horses, cruelly hauled across the border by predatory kill buyers. After the audit, the European Union suspended further imports of horsemeat from Mexico.

The suspension dealt a huge blow to the North American horse slaughter industry. And this audit of the other big horse-slaughtering nation in North America could turn into a devastating second blow.

Every year, kill buyers haul more than 100,000 American horses—working, racing and companion horses and even children’s ponies—across the border to Canada and Mexico in cramped trailers, typically without food, water, or rest. The majority of these horses are young, healthy animals, sold at auctions by owners who either didn’t know, or didn’t care, about their fate. In Canadian and Mexican slaughterhouses, these horses—who are naturally very anxious and respond to threats by fleeing—are often inhumanely handled and slaughtered, before being shipped overseas for human consumption.

During the six months prior to slaughter, Canada allows the use of various substances that would automatically exclude horses from the food chain in the EU. Several audits conducted by the European Commission’s Food and Veterinary Office have echoed our concerns about the inherent weaknesses in the Canadian and Mexican control systems, and concluded that the veracity and reliability of vendor statements on the medical history of the U.S. horses cannot be guaranteed.

The European Commission’s audit also pointed to similar problems with U.S. horses that are sent to Canada for slaughter. The European Commission noted that official export certificates that accompany live horses from the United States do not include any statements relating to public health. This casts further doubt on the controls that Canada has in place.

For years, The HSUS and Humane Society International have repeatedly said that the horse-slaughter industry is predatory and reckless, unwilling, and perhaps unable to establish sufficient controls to meet the basic food safety standards called for in processing chicken, pork, or beef.  The fundamental problem is that horses in North America are not raised for food, but for companionship and for recreation or work. That means that most owners administer a wide variety of veterinary drugs forbidden for use in animals destined for the table – practices you’d never see in other industries where animals are specifically raised for consumption.

Recognizing that veterinary drug residues can be an issue, the European Union has since July 2010 required that only properly identified horses with a known lifetime medical treatment history, and whose medicinal treatment records show they satisfy the federal Food and Drug Administration-mandated withdrawal periods, are allowed to be slaughtered for export to the EU. The countries exporting horsemeat say they’ve taken steps to implement measures to preclude contaminated horsemeat from ending up on the EU market, but we have repeatedly pointed out to the European Commission that these measures are fundamentally flawed and virtually impossible to enforce.

Shutting down this cruel trade will also force the U.S. horse industry and owners to take greater responsibility for their animals, and think more carefully about how they will care for them throughout and at the end of their lives.  It is a barbaric, opportunistic, and unsafe trade, and it should end not only in the United States, but throughout North America. If the European Commission suspends the Canadian horsemeat trade as it should, we’ll have taken one more big step toward achieving that long-overdue goal.

Equine, Humane Society International, Public Policy (Legal/Legislative)

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  1. fundacion San Francisco de Asís-Zarzal Colombia says:

    Stop animal cruelty

  2. fundacion San Francisco de Asís-Zarzal Colombia says:

    Stop animal cruelty.-

  3. fundacion San Francisco de Asís-Zarzal Colombia says:

    Suspender el comercio de carne de caballo canadiense. and.stop animal cruelty.-

  4. Jane Cheuvront says:

    Time to stop all of this now.

  5. Barbara Oates says:

    I love horses and have owned many you are right people should be more caring and responsible out of site out of mind.I have seen this in dog and cat rescue also.I posted on Facebook a picture of dead dogs thrown in a pile at a land fill,they were killed because people didn’t want them any more.My be if someone would do a video of these horse and what they go through at slaughter my be it would wake people up.No animal should go through cruelty, they have c given us so much.We are living in a throw away society this is the results.

    • Shelley says:

      There’s very graphic horse slaughter videos all over YouTube!

    • Jena Hobert says:

      Check out YouTube. Just type in horse slaughter. ….you can find Canada Mexico Japan France. ….slaughter from beginning to end.
      Japan actually bathes the horses before they slaughter….

    • Kelly says:

      There are several undercover videos of this horrific cruelty..go to CHDC’s website and you will find several links!! But beware they are very graphic and show the truth!!! CHDC is Canadian Horse Defence Coalition

    • Jan Berman says:

      Barbara, there are many videos out there that show the horrific fate of slaughter-bound horses. There are undercover videos being made all the time. If you want to use them they are plentiful on Youtube. There are full documentaries on horse slaughter with multiple videos. Just google horse slaughter.

    • mary says:

      it is on there and it does not take a test for months to determine that horses from the united states and mexico and canada auctions are loaded with chemicals.

    • Lana says:

      Share this website….. THERE you will see many video investigations at horse slaughter plants in Canada. One in particular is 3 days …. more than enough proof of a failed barbaric system that needs to END NOW!

    • Teresa Cook says:

      lots of undercover video is available… just search “horse slaughter video’s” on google… or youtube… and share those…. it is horrific…..:(

  6. abbie riley says:

    Stop this nonsense

  7. CINDY says:

    I pray this is not going to be a double edged sword. One side this could be wonderful news if Europe does ban horsemeat. The other side is the US ban on slaughterhouses is up in September. All who are anti slaughter must push for the safe act and contact elected officals to keep the ban on horse slaughter in America.

  8. melodieJohnson says:

    They slaughter pregnant mares and the babies are left to die. These are our American horses.What is wrong with us.They die a horrible death.We have to do something NOW#

  9. Susan Gilbert says:

    Please stop this horrific treatment of healthy horses. These animals helped to make our country what it is today .They deserve better treatment than this from a civilized population. Why can’t we see the bigger picture and use birth control and stop breeding horses for racing .We have enough ,and if they aren’t great purse winners they are castaways .It is our own greed that is sending these animals to slaughter .The wild horses have existed for hundreds of years now we are putting an end to their existence and the west the way it was meant to be .Wild ,untamed and beautiful.Why do we have to ruin all that is natural and good?

  10. Jennifer Shepherd says:

    This is way the humane society should support working horses.

  11. Adrienne Bishop says:

    This is wonderful news!

  12. christine peniaranda says:

    Horse slaughter goes against our Heavenly Creator’s health laws. No wonder this country is smote with lawlessness and disasters everyday. God will bless this nation if we return to His rules for living.

  13. Denise Rippee says:

    It is way past time to put an absolute end to horse slaughter. I have loved and admired horses all my life and I cannot even bear to think how scared and terrified these poor horses are when they are being transported and when they get to the slaughter plants. The videos are extremely graphic and very hard to watch. Most people don’t even have a clue what goes on at these barbaric plants. How can people send their horse to auction after they have had them as their best friend and companion and then they have to endure such a death. If people cannot afford euthansia for their horse then they should not have them.. It breaks my heart to see these horses starving and waiting to go to slaughter. Something more needs to be done. thank you.

  14. Susan Russell says:

    Why are we such a cruel race.we call ourselves civilised.I think animals could teach us a lot.they are loyal they work for us the least we can do is treat them with respect

  15. Elizabeth FitzGibbon says:


    Please become a Vegan Pope Francis. It would set such a good example to the world. I’ts environmentally friendly, since animals consume so much of the earth,s food and water, let alone the cruelty to God’s creatures. I am nearly 80yrs old and have been a vegan for just over a year.

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