Knowledge of horse-meat origins lacking – survey

Meat from horses is sometimes used as an ingredient in convenience foods, as shown in this deep-freeze snack pack from The Netherlands.
Meat from horses is sometimes used as an ingredient in convenience foods, as shown in this deep-freeze snack pack from The Netherlands.

Most European consumers want a ban on imports of horse meat from countries where food safety regulations do not meet European Union standards, a survey reveals.

The majority of people surveyed in Belgium, France and Italy – the biggest European Union importers and consumers of horse meat – support such a ban (84, 73 and 85 per cent respectively).

The poll, conducted by Ipsos MORI on behalf of Humane Society International, also indicates a lack of consumer awareness about the origins of horse meat.

Most people across the three countries polled mistakenly assumed that horse meat sold in their country originated either locally or from elsewhere in Europe.

In fact, Europe imports a significant proportion of horse meat from abroad, with 27,847,700 kilograms of horse meat imported from third countries in 2011 alone.

Vast quantities of horse meat come from non-European countries, including Canada and Mexico, where most of the horses come from the United States.

In the US, horses are not raised for human consumption and are routinely given drugs and medications not intended for the food supply.

Most poll respondents said they never or only sometimes ate horsemeat, whilst only a very small percentage of those asked said they ate it frequently (3 per cent of Italians, 4 per cent of French and 6 per cent of Belgians.)

“Killing horses for meat raises serious ethical questions wherever it happens in the world,” said Humane Society International’s European director, Joanna Swabe.

“These sensitive animals can endure extreme distress and suffering during transport and slaughter, and Humane Society International is campaigning for a worldwide end to the trade.

“Horse meat imported to Europe from third countries may also pose a risk to human health.

“Without assurances that third parties have implemented food safety systems that are equivalent to those provided for by EU legislation when processing horse meat originating from the US, HSI is urging the European Commission to protect EU consumer health by banning the import and sale of meat from these horses.”

A 2010 EU regulation requires that only meat from horses with a known medicinal treatment history can be exported to the EU. However, there is mounting evidence that measures in Canada and Mexico are so flawed that they will continue to fail to meet EU standards.

The EU lies at the heart of the global horse meat trade. Each year, hundreds of thousands of kilograms of horse meat are produced domestically within the EU, or shipped to EU Member States from countries such as Canada, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico and Uruguay.


More information can be found here



3 thoughts on “Knowledge of horse-meat origins lacking – survey

  • December 9, 2012 at 12:00 pm

    I live in the United States and there are so many Americans trying to stop horse slaugter here. Not only do we want to stop the cruel treatment of these beautiful animals, but they are not fit for human consumption due to all the wormers and drugs. Records on the horses is altered to pass them for profit only! Please pull up slaughter videos on U tube or read the thousands of articles on why this practice should stop!!!!

  • December 9, 2012 at 12:21 pm

    I don’t know why The EU ever accepted Horse meat sourced from American Horses in the first place, and why they continue despite knowledge that the current EID system is , well..useless. To accept a document in which a kill buyer simply declares that “to best of their knowledge” the horses in their loads have not had any banned substance is just insane. They have no idea what the horses have had administered during their life time prior to purchase , these KB’s buy “loose horses” that have come from varied and for the majority untraceable back grounds & origin. American horses end up at slaughter only due to misfortune ..not because they are bred and raised as a food source. I bet the EU would never have accepted beef, pork or chicken from animals that were randomly gathered by kill buyer with contracts at the plants to fill orders..why where Horses ever the exception???

  • January 20, 2013 at 12:26 pm

    It’s a shame the authorities didn’t read and react to your article ‘before’ the beef – horseburger – fiasco. If they had and learned the truth about the traceability of U.S. horses exported to Canada and Mexico for slaughter and then on to the EU – it may well have been avoided. The U.S. has NO food animal regulations on horses ‘exported’ for slaughter – NONE! Maybe now the public will demand safe food….


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Send this to a friend