For Immediate Release August 3, 2012:
Canada Exports Toxic Horsemeat to Europe
Orangeville, Ontario: On the heels of stringent new regulations released by the European Union concerning horsemeat and food safety requirements, even more recent news emerged from the European Commission’s Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF).
A notification from Belgium on July 27, 2012, indicates that residues of unauthorized drugs phenylbutazone and clenbuterol were discovered in Canadian horsemeat samples.
In addition to distribution in Belgium, the tainted meat had also reached EU member countries France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. At this time it is not known how many people may have ingested these prohibited substances, or whether a total recall was achieved before the meat had reached consumers.
Phenylbutazone is a carcinogen and even tiny amounts can cause aplastic anemia, particularly in children. Clenbuterol can cause symptoms of acute food poisoning (gross tremors of the extremities, tachycardia, nausea, headaches and dizziness). These drugs are not permitted to enter the food chain.
Yet in spite of the risks and an alleged “zero tolerance” policy toward unacceptable drugs in horsemeat, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) continues to allow the export of horsemeat overseas and condones its consumption in Quebec (and, to a lesser extent, in other provinces).
Currently, the European Union accepts Canadian horsemeat. In 2010, an EU audit revealed numerous concerns about Canadian food safety protocols, but a period of grace was granted. Canada had to conform by 2013, at which time a strict passport system for horses is expected to be in place.
Now, 2013 is just around the corner and the Canadian horsemeat industry will soon bear the weight of European regulations. In the meantime, the Canadian government has knowingly permitted exports of a product that is likely to contain dangerous drug residues. Why knowingly? Because it’s not rocket science! North American horses have not been raised as traditional food animals, and of course many of them will have been treated with drugs that are not safe for human consumption.
Why are we not surprised about the news from Belgium? What will the CFIA say now to cover its hind quarters? In spite of CFIA reassurances that horsemeat is safe to consume, and that Canada has an excellent testing mechanism in place, the facts speak more loudly than platitudes.
Once again, the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition (CHDC) calls upon the Canadian government to end the practice of slaughtering horses for human consumption.
For more information, please contact:
Sinikka Crosland, Executive Director
Canadian Horse Defence Coalition