American horsemeat exports pose health risk and should be banned, say activists

 

Thousands of tonnes of horsemeat originating from the United States, which may be tainted with banned veterinary drugs, is being imported into Europe for human consumption every year and should be banned, say campaigners.

A report by the respected Humane Society International (HSI) outlining what they say is a glaring gap in food safety standards concerning horse meat from North America, is to be submitted to the European Commission this week, along with a demand for a halt to the trade.

About 15,000 tonnes of horsemeat worth £42m is shipped each year to Europe from Mexico and Canada, the vast majority of which comes from horses raised in the US, which bans their slaughter for human consumption. The influx from the US, which last year sent 167,000 horses to its two neighbours for slaughter as human food, has been largely unexamined during the ongoing crisis. But experts argue that wide differences in record keeping between the US and Europe means large quantities of horse meat that may not meet EU standards are entering the food chain from across the Atlantic while attention is focused on countries such as Romania.

Jo Swabe, European Union director of HSI, said: “Americans, rather like the British, do not regard horses as a source of meat and so these animals are treated by their owners with drugs that mean they cannot enter the human food chain. There is no reliable system in the US, or in Canada and Mexico , to verify just what medicines have been administered and yet these carcasses are being shipped to Europe. The only answer is for this trade to be stopped.”

Unlike Europe, where a horse must have a passport identifying its origin and listing medications it has had, there is no such US system. Instead, any American selling a horse to Mexico or Canada must declare it has received no substances making it unfit for use as food such as phenylbutazone or “bute”, a widely-used painkiller and a carcinogen in humans. Campaigners say this system is ripe for abuse.

The Independent understands the European Union’s Food and Veterinary Office has concluded documentation showing US horses presented for slaughter in Mexico and Canada have not had substances making them unfit for use as food is “not reliable”.

The European Commission said robust measures were in place but requirements were under review.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
filmPoldark production team claims innocence of viewers' ab frenzy
Life and Style
Google marks the 81st anniversary of the Loch Ness Monster's most famous photograph
techIt's the 81st anniversary of THAT iconic photograph
News
Katie Hopkins makes a living out of courting controversy
people
News
General Election
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Office Administrator

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Office Administrator is requ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - Commercial Vehicles - OTE £40,000

£12000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to expansion and growth of ...

Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer - Sheffield - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer position with a...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Leader - Plasma Processing

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An Operations Leader is required to join a lea...

Day In a Page

Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders