Let’s set some FACTS first so everyone can make their own decisions regarding horsemeat.
Unlike any other livestock, where the majority is kept and raised for human consumption, horses are not! Horse owners in the U.S., typically have no idea what is and isn’t allowed for food animal production because most horse owners never even think about someone eating their horse. Almost everything administered to horses in the U.S. is labeled ‘not intended for food animals’ and horse owners don’t hesitate to treat their spoiled horses so they are comfortable. It’s not just ‘bute’ that people should be concerned about!
Three documents magically transpose any horse in the U.S. to a ‘slaughter’ horse and all three are created or fabricated within a few days of when they ship to the slaughter facility.
1. EID – Equine Identification Document – alleged owners Drug History – meaningless
2. Owner/Shipper Record – Dealers load record – meaningless
3. Health Certificate – Veterinarian endorsed – meaningless
HORSES MEDICAL HISTORY
Horse owners in the U.S. don’t keep ‘food’ animal records of medical treatments because they never intend for them to be ‘food’. Horses live longer than a typical food animal and often change owners and veterinarians.
Most horses in the U.S. do NOT have a permanent identification and no medical records transfer from one owner to the next. Veterinarians in the U.S. are typically only required to keep medical treatment records for two years so there is no accurate method to determine or create a horses medical history. Since horse owners never consider their horse a ‘food’ animal they rely on the veterinarian for administering treatments and most often don’t even know what medications are given to their horse and if it is allowed for a ‘food’ animal. Since horse owners in the U.S. don’t consider their horse a ‘food’ animal, they don’t record medical treatments and the current veterinarian for that horse may keep a record for two years.
There is NO medical history on U.S. horses and it cannot be created from any existing records!
DRUG AFFIDAVITS and FDA
In the U.S., horse dealers are allowed to create or fabricate a ‘foreign’ drug affidavit immediately after they acquire a horse and declare the horse is drug free – to the best of their knowledge! How absurd!
Some auctions now require horse owners to fill out a form or EID – Equine Identification Document – that declares the horse as drug free from various medical drugs listed in their ‘formal’ names. You would have to be a vet technician to understand the formal names and equate them to the common names. They don’t even know what they are declaring. It is a shame.
There is NO medical history on U.S. horses, even when presented with an EID or drug affidavit! The U.S. authorities don’t even keep a copy because it is a ‘foreign’ document – not required by the U.S.
The U.S. FDA or Food and Drug Administration is an arm of the Health and Human Services and is suppose to set the standards for U.S. food production and oversight.
The FDA has NO food animal requirements for U.S. horses ‘exported’ for slaughter – NONE!
There is NO U.S. required drug affidavit for horses exported for slaughter and horse dealers are allowed to create the foreign affidavits with no knowledge and no consequences.
USDA and APHIS
One of the primary purposes of the USDA or United States Department of Agriculture is to ‘produce’ with as little regulation and oversight as possible. The term ‘transparency’ here in the U.S. means ‘non-existent’ and the regulatory authorities within the USDA strive to be transparent with ‘producers’ because when they aren’t transparent, it generally costs more money. APHIS or Animal Plant Health Inspection Services is an arm of the USDA. APHIS is required to sign off on a veterinary certificate for horses exported for slaughter. The veterinary certificate is signed by both an attending (local) veterinarian and APHIS veterinarian sign. The veterinary certificate is ONLY a ‘health’ certificate or an affidavit that when the attending vet looked at the horse, the vet believes that that horse may be able to stand long enough to get to a slaughtering facility and doesn’t ‘appear’ to have a communicable disease. That Health certificate does NOT indicate or guarantee that the horse is fit for human consumption, is drug free or wholesome. The Health certificate also requires the Veterinarians to declare that the horse has not been exposed to any diseases or been in areas where there has been any outbreaks of communicable diseases. Those veterinarians have no knowledge of where the horse has been. Often horses are picked up by dealers at auctions and trucked around the country until they can fill the load. The horse dealers don’t even know where the horse came from, so how could the vet know where they came from. USDA/APHIS does not even inspect horse dealers ‘holdings’ for potential communicable disease segregation. Horses can still travel across the country without a negative EIA test and are gathered on dealers lots until they have enough for a load to ship. Most horse dealers also sell horses to private individuals for riding or pleasure too after they have been co-mingled with unknown horses.
The Health Certificates issued by APHIS is at best only a quick visual inspection that a horse might be able to stand long enough to get to a slaughter facility and is NOT an affidavit of a horse produced to food animal requirements.
Over 100,000 U.S. FDA unregulated food animals – horses – are exported to Canada and Mexico annually, with the majority going to the EU for human consumption with forged foreign drug affidavits and APHIS health certificates that are meaningless.