EU should test for other drugs in meat, says charity

Joanna Swabe
Joanna Swabe

The European Commission has not been thorough enough in its testing program on horse meat, the European director of Humane Society International, Joanna Swabe, says.

Swabe was commenting after the European Commission released the results of a testing program that involved 27 EU countries. Of these, 4144 tested for the presence of horse-meat DNA, of which 4.66 per cent were positive. There were 3115 tests for the presence of phenylbutazone, of which 16 (1.51 per cent) were positive for the drug, which is banned from entering the food chain.

“Testing for just one of the many drugs banned for use in animals that enter the food chain falls short of a precautionary and thorough approach to addressing fraud and ensuring food safety standards are met,” Swabe said.

“It isn’t just phenylbutazone in horse meat that poses a potential risk to human health.

“The European Commission has failed to seek tests for a whole host of other banned veterinary drugs, which are commonly administered to horses, and is thereby failing the public by allowing meat from these animals to be sold in the European Union in contravention of its own food safety and consumer protection regulations.”

The society called again for a moratorium on the sale of horse meat from North America and any third country that does not meet EU import requirements.

For years the society has raised concerns about the cruelty of horse slaughter.

Most recently, the organisation helped bring to light the issue of food safety with regard to horse meat derived from animals that are raised as companion, sport and working animals and are ubiquitously treated with drugs prohibited for use in animals slaughtered for human consumption.

About 20 per cent of the EU’s horsemeat is imported from North America, primarily from horses originating from the United States, according to EU statistics.

The society argues that slaughterhouses in Canada and Mexico, where the horses are taken for slaughter, are unable to secure accurate information on these animals’ medical histories.

Equine identification documents created to satisfy EU import requirements have been found by the European Commission’s Food and Veterinary Office to be prone to fraud.

EU food safety regulations ban for use in food-producing animals several veterinary drugs for which no maximum residue limit has been established. Regulations state that if an animal receives specific drugs even once in their lifetime, that animal is banned from entering the food chain whether residues can be detected post-mortem or not.

Latest research and information from the horse world.

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