Anyone that has spent any time in the quality profession will tell you that a quality product is not an afterthought. ‘Prevention’ rather than ‘detection’ has been the quality and manufacturing principle for many years. Even the FDA and USDA HACCP or Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point plan is a prevention and control plan. However, there is absolutely NO prevention and no control of adulterated horses entering the slaughter system or human food chain. Horse dealers and their agents are allowed to fabricate drug affidavits with no prior knowledge, immediately after they acquire a horse, and ship that horse within a few days. How absolutely absurd… We aren’t talking about allowing an occasional broken widget here. We are talking about HUMAN FOOD SAFETY.
We keep hearing that the horses are inspected. How many are inspected and for what exactly? Did you ever wonder exactly what drug residues they are testing for? Pretty meaningless to throw out there that something is tested for drug residues without defining what drugs they are testing. One drug? Two? Ten? What about the current ‘frog juice’ trend? When it comes to horses, the probability of adulteration is very, very high, given that almost everything horse owners give their horses is labeled not intended for animals used for human consumption. Some of the most common drugs have NO withdrawal and cannot ever be used in food animals.
What kind of sampling plan would anyone believe would result in a wholesome safe quality product at least 99.7% of the time? Oh wait – where did that 99.7% number come from? You think food safety confidence should be lower? What do you believe food safety, wholesomeness should target? In quality. there is an indicator identified as LTPD or Lot Tolerance Percent Defective. It is a pretty important number. The LTPD describes what the sampling plan will reject. For example, the LTPD may tell you that a 10% defective lot would be rejected say 80% of the time. Of course that also means that a 10% defective lot may be accepted. The LTPD of a sampling plan is a level of quality routinely rejected by the sampling plan. The AQL describes what the sampling plan will accept and we will reserve that for another day.
As with all numbers or statistics, it is important to isolate exactly what you are trying to determine. Don’t be fooled! For example – to determine the LTPD of any one parameter, you have to isolate that parameter. Take Bute for example. The meat industry claims that a certain number of animals are tested for ‘drug residue’. What encompasses drug residue tests? Are visual inspection for syringe marks included? Is it only blood and organ tests? The number of horses reported as tested for drug residues will be much higher than the numbers actually tested for ‘bute’ because the industry standard previously was a FAST test done on the slaughter premises that does NOT include testing for bute.
So does anyone believe that just a ‘sample’ of a highly suspect adulterated lot could instill any confidence in the safety of that lot, especially when it comes to food safety? Remember horses are not regulated food animals and even the veterinarians here aren’t required to keep records for typically more than a year or two.
Consider what ‘sample size’ of any known adulterated lot would create a confidence level high enough for you to feel comfortable feeding an animal from that lot to your children?