Survey Results Reveal That Traceability Does Little to Alleviate Concerns About Horsemeat……

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testing horsemeatWritten by Heather Clemenceau

First of all, thanks to everyone for completing the survey I launched in a previous blog,  and for sharing your opinions.  In this survey I don’t claim to provide options for pro-slaughters to render an opinion here, as most people following this blog are vehemently opposed to horse slaughter.  So the questions are mostly open and non-leading, but only if you’re of the anti-slaughter sentiment!

After numerous missed deadlines or the complete absence of functional plans and infrastructure,  we have about two months to go in Canada before we find out what happens with equine traceability.  We know Ag-Canada and Equine Canada won’t be ready, but what will the EU do about it?  They are well aware that the Canadian slaughter system  is  unreliable, dangerous to the global food supply and one to avoid emulating should the U.S. resume slaughtering horses for human consumption, as is being proposed. If the EU decides to continue with the status quo, they are no doubt aware that the EID does not prevent adulterated meat from reaching the consumer. It can’t, because the document doesn’t guarantee anything.   It’s also become more obvious to Canadians that the CFIA is populated with many veterinarians who are quick to respond to news articles to defend food safety practices – but unless they are trained in public health and willing to put public health front and centre, they should refrain from providing false assurances of safety or meddling in food processing operations.  This is certainly true for Dr. Ian Alexander,  who has an Honours B. Sc. degree in Biology and an M. Sc and Ph.D in Veterinary Pharmacology/Toxicology as well as a Doctorate of Veterinary of Medicine from the University of Guelph – but – apparently no public health experiences or epidemiological course of study. It’s absolutely astounding to me that with his education he can blithely dismiss the CFIA testing protocols for horsemeat as remotely accurate.

Traceability is “the ability to systematically identify a unit of production, track its location and describe any treatmenhorse-meatts or transformations at all stages of production,  processing and distribution.”  (Archipelago, 2005)

A takeaway from the food fraud/mislabelling scandal in the EU tells us that no amount of tracking without DNA species analysis at critical junctures would have prevented this fraud.  If all these big chains with their food-safety-is-first traceability schemes don’t know what’s in the products they’re hawking, how are mere mortals and consumers to know?

Equine Life Numbers Liz Brown

Journalist Liz Brown has researched equine traceability for Horse-Canada. Please click on the graphic to embiggen and read the entire article as a PDF.

The concerns with EU horsemeat scandal  and the North American experience have been reflected in the survey.  While 43.9% of the respondents believed that disease-tracking would be an important outcome of such a system,  66.7% of those same individuals would not voluntarily opt-in to a program.  Perhaps related to an earlier statement from Slaughterhouse Sue Wallis regarding slaughterhouses providing 72 hours to claim (and pay associated costs for) a stolen horse  from a plant,  63.2% of those surveyed do not believe a tracking program would significantly prevent horse theft.   I don’t believe attitudes towards traceability for horses result only from cost or other confounding elements of the program, but from past experience with and knowledge of players in the horse slaughter industry itself.  Traceability will do nothing to make slaughter humane,  assure them  food, water, or rest in crowded trucks in which they are often seriously injured or killed in transit.

Recent high profile food recalls and enhanced consumer awareness have made traceability a high level issue across the supply chain, from manufacturer to consumer. Even though I have a philosophical objection to it,  journalist Liz Brown has written extensively about the inevitability of  traceability in Canada – her research on the program is available by clicking on the article to the left.

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Further reading:

Star Investigation:  Ottawa refuses to say whether drug-tainted horsemeat entered food chain

Star Investigation:  Drugged horses slipping through inadequate food system

Saving Holly:  Destined for dinner tables,  Star joins race to rescue drug-filled mare from slaughter

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About heatherclemenceau

Hopefully as I've grown older I've also grown wiser, but one thing I've definitely become cognizant of is the difference between making a living and making a life. Frequently outraged by some of life's cruelties, and respect diversity. But.....I don't suffer fools gladly, and occasionally, this does get me into some trouble! I have the distinction of being the world's worst golfer - no wait, I do believe that there is a gypsy in Moldavia who is a worse golfer than I. Nor am I much of a dancer - you won't see a booty-shakin' flygirl routine from me! I'm also not the kind of cook who can whip up a five-course meal on a radiator either! And I've never figured out how to get an orchid to bloom a second time. I love to discuss literature, science, philosophy, and sci-fi , or even why Seinfeld is funny on so many levels. Words move me. I'm very soft-hearted about most things, especially animals, but I have a stoicism about me that is sometimes interpreted incorrectly. I do have a definite edge and an often "retro-adolescent" sense of humour at times. I'm a big advocate of distributed computing projects to advance science. Check out http://boinc.berkeley.edu/ if you want to find out more. I'm an eclectic (but not crazy) vegetarian, and as such, it's a personal practice of mine to seduce innocent meat-eaters into cruising the (salad) bars at every opportunity. You would be powerless to resist. I was recently surprised to find that a computer algorithm concluded that I write like Dan Brown, which is funny because I didn't think Dan Brown could actually write. Check out your own style - http://iwl.me/ Oh, and I love impractical shoes and funky hats.

4 responses »

  1. Pingback: Survey Results Reveal That Traceability Does Little to Alleviate Concerns About Horsemeat…… | Canadian Horse Defence Coalition's Blog

  2. I don’t know about Canada and Mexico, but I know the US isn’t doing anything and doesn’t plan to do anything.

  3. We are not surprised about Dr. Ian Alexander or any of his associates at the CFIA assuring everyone that horsemeat is safe to eat. They are all working for the Agency and ofcourse they are bound to brainwash us all with safe horse meat when the reality is, the horses that end up in slaughter have had endless amounts of toxic and harmful drugs that the CFIA prohits from human consumption. Go figure.

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