NGO investigations and EU audits carried out since 2010 have shown non-compliance with relevant EU requirements relating to animal welfare and traceability of horses in Argentina, Australia, Canada and Uruguay. Horses are systematically neglected and mistreated along the production chain of horsemeat.
They are beaten, kicked and receive electric shocks. They are malnourished and exposed to extreme weather conditions in slaughterhouse pens and at assembly centres. Injured, sick and weak horses receive no veterinary care and are left to die unassisted.
Currently, EU animal welfare requirements only apply to slaughterhouses.
The assembly centres and transport are not covered by EU rules. Horses are transported over long distances without water, crammed together in unsuitable cattle trailers, and many do not survive the journey to the slaughterhouse.
For several years, NGOs have been providing evidence that the audits of the EU Commission and European importers are manipulated by horse dealers and slaughterhouse operators.
Australia, Meramist Slaughterhouse
For example, pregnant, injured, sick and emaciated horses are replaced or removed.
The reports of the latest EU audits in Uruguay and Argentina state that the assembly centres were either empty or the horses had been exchanged shortly before the visit.
In the above-mentioned countries, horses are not considered to be food-producing animals and are commonly given drugs that are prohibited in the EU for use in horses destined for human consumption.
The traceability systems in place are unreliable, as they rely on the honesty of horse owners and dealers, who give sworn declarations on the medical treatments in the six months prior to slaughter.
Argentina, a slaughterhouse in Land L: Injured horses are pulled from the transporters with chains and left to die.
In the EU, horses are microchipped and have a passport showing their medical history.
In the export countries, they are tagged shortly before being sent to slaughter. Due to the lack of traceability, horses of unknown origin and with unclear drug history as well as stolen horses enter the food chain, which poses a high food safety risk for European consumers.
We call upon the European Commissioners Stella Kyriakides (DG SANTE) and Valdis Dombrovskis (DG Trade):