The head of the Humane Society of the United States has labelled the horse slaughter industry as disreputable and predatory, with no authentic standards or professionalism.
“The fact that horse meat is being commingled with other meats is no surprise to us, though it has been a major surprise to European consumers,” chief executive Wayne Pacelle said.
Pacelle, writing in his blog, “A Humane Nation“, was referring to the recent scandal in Britain and Europe surrounding contamination of beef burgers with horse DNA. While most contaminated burgers had only traces of horse DNA, one was found to be 29 per cent horse meat and another 17.7 per cent.
He was also referring to a recent Humane Society International investigation that found horse meat to be a “hidden ingredient” in several types of cheap convenience foods sold in local European markets.
“The HSUS has been battling against the slaughter of American horses for human consumption for many years,” he said.
“With kill plants shuttered in the United States, the field of battle is increasingly on foreign soil; our neighbors in Canada and Mexico are taking in American horses and slaughtering them, while European and Asian nations – Belgium, France, Italy, Japan, and others – are importing that processed horse meat for human consumption.
“In all these nations – thanks to the work of our investigators and program staff with The HSUS and Humane Society International – we are finding a trail of cruelty and deception, which is fomenting public concern among European citizens about the integrity, honesty and wholesomeness of the global horse slaughter enterprise.
“We’ve said all along that this is a disreputable, predatory industry, with no authentic standards or professionalism. The fact that horse meat is being commingled with other meats is no surprise to us, though it has been a major surprise to European consumers.
“The European Union, which restricts imports of American pork because pigs are treated with ractopamine, and American poultry because chickens are treated with chlorine, should not be permitting adulterated horse meat to enter their economic markets.
“It is indisputable that American horses – whether they come off the racetrack, out of the show ring or from a ranch – are treated throughout their lives with drugs prohibited for use in food producing animals, both here and in the EU.
“The fact is, Canada and Mexico do not have sufficient protocols for safety testing, yet somehow the EU is allowing these products in,” Pacelle said.
“There are many very good reasons to oppose horse slaughter, including the malevolent presence of killer buyers misrepresenting their intentions at auctions, inhumane long-distance transport, and cruel and clumsy slaughter methods.
“But if altruistic and humane concerns are not sufficient to convince policy makers to act, then consumer protection standards related to food safety and authentic labeling should be enough to put the horse slaughter industry out of business.”