May 10, 2007

The International League for the Protection of Horses (ILPH) has branded Gordon Ramsey's F word programme irresponsible for promoting the consumption of horse meat without pointing out the full picture of abuses that occur in certain areas of Europe.

Jo White, ILPH Head of Campaigns and European Affairs said: "By encouraging people to eat more horsemeat Gordon Ramsay is actually encouraging an increase in the totally unnecessary and cruel long distance transport of horses for slaughter which the ILPH is working hard to eliminate.

"The horsemeat trade is undoubtedly the largest general abuse of horses in Europe, involving the transportation to slaughter of thousands of horses, thousands of miles in totally inhumane and pitiful conditions.

"We find this particularly surprising coming from Gordon Ramsey, known for encouraging people to eat local produce. On his F Word programme they encourage the nomination for a food ASBO of individuals or organisations which encourage an irresponsible attitude to food. We have nominated Gordon Ramsey and the F Word."

Ten facts about the horsemeat trade from the ILPH:

  1. About 100,000 horses per year are currently being transported long-distances live for slaughter within Europe, which is totally unnecessary and inhumane and should be replaced with a carcass only trade.

  2. Journey times are excessively long, with horses travelling thousands of miles for days on end only to be slaughtered when they arrive at the destination. Journeys in extreme weather conditions of around 1380 miles taking three days from Poland to Southern Italy are not uncommon and some are even longer.

  3. Proportionately more horses are transported live for slaughter or further fattening than any other meat species, by a very large margin. Research indicates that 46% of the equine trade were transported live for slaughter or further fattening compared to 19.8% of the bovine (cattle) trade, 15.9% of ovine (sheep) trade, 13.3% of poultry trade and 10.3% of pig trade.

  4. Due to inhumane conditions during transportation, some serious injuries occur and sadly horses still die in transit.

  5. Demand for horse meat is highest in Italy, with 84% of live horses destined for slaughter entering into and moving across EU Member States travelling to Italy (by comparison 7% go to France and 5% to Belgium).

  6. The countries supplying the most horse meat are Poland, Romania and Spain, with Lithuania, Belarus and Serbia also being involved in the trade.

  7. There are currently no EU regulations about the labelling of horse meat as packaging indicates the location of slaughter, not source. Therefore consumers are unaware of the origin of the meat and are therefore unable to make welfare friendly choices.

  8. Although the EU Transport Regulation has been updated this year the key issue remains, as before, that insufficient resources are allocated to enforcement within the Member States. There is evidence that in some Member States enforcement is extremely poor.

  9. One of the greatest concerns to the ILPH is inadequate provision of food, water or rest and the fact that there is no overall limit to journey times.

  10. There is a general decrease in the trade of horses for meat. Since in 2001 the number of horses transported live for slaughter in the EU has decreased from 165,000 to around 100,000. Do we want to see these statistics rise again by creating a demand in the UK?

The ILPH's ethos is to work with people in order to achieve maximum change and has been campaigning on this issue since its launch in 1927.

The ILPH is campaigning for horses to be slaughtered at source in their country of origin to avoid unnecessary suffering and for all EU Member States to move to a carcase only trade. Horses have very specific welfare needs in terms of temperament, behaviour as well as physiologically, which are very different to other animals transported long-distances for slaughter.

The ILPH is currently gathering evidence to support its view that finite journey limits must be introduced into current EU rules. It is also lobbying hard to increase the levels of enforcement of the new EU Transport Regulation. Physical checks to ensure that the laws are being adhered to, which include partitioning individual horses, lorries stopping at feed and watering stations and horses being rested every 24 hours, are essential.

The charity believes that the British public will continue to object to the inhumane treatment of horses that are being transported for slaughter as they have done for over 80 years. We will not tolerate the abuses that are taking place in some parts of the EU.