Last October slaughterphiles in the US and Canada watched in horror as all their latent fears came true. Despite holding on to the promise of horse slaughter as tight as a tick on a long-tailed mare, they watched and listened in disbelief as Claude Bouvry inexplicably ceased to accept American horses for slaughter for a weekend. No one had any notice and certainly no clear explanation, despite lots of theories about residues and EU audits. If they were following the plot, these slaughterphiles would really be losing control of their sphincter muscle right about now because that temporary panic was just practice. We’re now less than two weeks ago from the July 31st deadline, as originally identified in the GAO report. But. since many pros are notoriously unprepared and unaware of issues surrounding horse slaughter (they blithely ignore most evidence of cruelty), most of them refuse to believe that horse slaughter might someday go away.
Nobody in the horse industry had ever heard of July 31,2013 as some sort of drop-dead date. That is until it was included in the GAO report, which declared July 31st as the date that the EU would require lifetime medication records for all horses slaughtered outside of the EU. While there’s a big rush to launch traceability for horses in Canada, no one knows or will elaborate on what, if anything, this date means to horse slaughter in Canada.
A few months back I contacted Equine Canada asked them pointedly whether there was a big rush to get traceability implemented in Canada, and asked them specifically about that magic date. They told me they had no idea to what I was referring, and asked me to contact some soulless minion at the CFIA, who of course never responded.
A few weeks ago I wrote to Dr. Ian Alexander in the hopes that he might let me know if I had to run to out and get a Premise ID for my “farm,” or whether we might be able to look forward to a seriously diminished Canadian horse slaughter enterprise in less than 2 weeks.
Of course, I don’t have an answer yet, and maybe I never will. Or maybe I’ll get the standard form letter that assures me that the CFIA has everything under control. But in addition to the temporary slaughter shut-down in October, there’s more foreshadowing of what might come down the pipeline, if not in two weeks, but eventually. Like the hammer of an auctioneer at the end of an auction or a judge at the end of a trial, said hammer will also fall on us.
There are many hints that food adulteration is becoming increasingly intolerable to our trading partners:
Ractopamine, a growth promoter, is given to beef cattle during their last 4-6 weeks, to pigs in their last 4 weeks, and turkeys for their last 1-2 weeks. The Bureau of Veterinary Drugs, Health Protection Branch of the Health and Welfare Department of Ottawa here in Canada found that rats fed ractopamine experienced a cluster of birth defects such as cleft palate, open eyelids, shortened limbs, missing digits, enlarged heart, and protruding tongue.
In 2002, the FDA accused Eli Lilly. the manufacturer of Paylean, the brand name for ractopamine for pigs, of a cover-up on the dangers of the drug in animals. There was no mention in documents submitted during Paylean’s approval process of numerous phone calls from farmers reporting that their animals vomited after consuming feed containing Paylean or that they had become hyperactive or had died as a result of exposure to the drug.
Inexplicably, the FDA went on to approve ractopamine for cattle the following year even after sending a warning letter to Elanco (a subsidiary of Eli Lilly) on its deception and abuse of the approval process of Paylean for pigs.
Even though the FDA rolled over on ractopamine, other countries paid attention to the scandal with the growth enhancing drug banned in Russia, Europe, Taiwan and China where an estimated 1,700 people were “poisoned” from eating Paylean-fed pigs. You know that the industrial food system is fucked-up when the Russians know more about our food system than we do.
South Korea has banned and then un-banned US wheat. This comes after the announcement about the contamination of US commercially grown wheat with Monsanto’s genetically modified wheat. It was un-banned earlier this month after samples showed all were free of the unapproved genetically-modified wheat strain.
Meanwhile, Canada is renovating our parliamentary buildings to cleanse them of asbestos, which of course causes cancer. While doing so, the Canadian government is still pushing exports of asbestos to third-world countries. Canada has even gone so far as to argue a challenge at the World Trade Organization that a proposed French ban on asbestos imports would be an illegal trade practice. Despite recent warnings that asbestos was the cause of hundreds of thousands of cancer victims in Europe, Canadian asbestos producers continue to promote and sell it worldwide to developing nations. It’s the new tobacco – find a market for toxic goods and pawn it off on the poor brown people of the world. It’s really embarrassing to be a Canadian when you know that your government is implicated in shit like this, but what would you expect from a country that hasn’t revised its animal protection laws significantly for 200 years and still promotes the seal hunt and ignores the issues with horse slaughter?
So the point is that our trading partners are fickle groups, and at any point in time we can become the recipient of the fickle finger of fate. The world is becoming more aware of the health hazards of food contamination through animal rearing activities. Which is really ironic since most horses aren’t actually “reared” for food. There is no such thing as an animal that is duel purpose – meaning an animal that is a pet to most AND also one that is used as a food source. We have pet animals and food animals – not both.
You can read the letter to Dr. Alexander below:
“Dear Dr. Alexander,
Under regulations of the Health of Animals Act, Canada has a mandatory identification program for cattle, bison and sheep. Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) have expanded that program to include horses. According to AAFC, horses are functional livestock and are part of the national ID and traceability strategy for animal health and food safety reasons.
Equine Canada, the comprehensive national governing body for equestrianism, is responsible for developing a national equine-specific program (CanEQUID) to satisfy federal government requirements for identification and traceability for equines. This program would somehow have to be imposed upon US horses coming to Canada as well, since, after spending several years and millions on the National Animal Identification System , (NAIS) the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) apparently scrapped the effort and turned responsibility for livestock identification over to the 50 states and various tribal nations. But for horses sent to Canada for slaughter, Americans would also have to adopt the UELN, which may result in greater scrutiny for premises ID than that currently experienced for gun control.
Also simultaneously moving forward are the new CFIA meat hygiene directives that affect horsemeat – as of July 31st this year, Canadian slaughter facilities will require complete health records dating back six months. This would apparently phase-out the often fallaciously completed Equine Information Document (EID), which has failed to assure EU members that drugs are not entering the food chain. The deadline (July 2013) was created in an exchange between the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and SANGO, which is the EU’s version of the CFIA. The working group which includes the CFIA, Agri-Food Canada, Health Canada, the slaughterhouses, provincial horse groups and the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association. You can also read the reference to the July 31, 2013 date in the GAO report – (page 13) It states:
“Furthermore, effective July 31, 2013, the European Union will require lifetime medication records for all horses slaughtered in non-European Union countries before accepting imports of horsemeat from those countries. According to APHIS and horse industry sources, these requirements could result in shippers certifying that their horses are free of medication residues without having first-hand knowledge or documentation of the horses’ status for the previous 180 days.”
What action is supposed to be undertaken by the EU on July 31, 2013? It seems clear that the EU is referring to traceability here, which would seemingly eliminate the EID. Would you be able to explain what action Canada will be taking with regard to horsemeat shipments after this date?
Here’s the CanEquid Strategy document.
- Unique identification information, including a unique lifetime number
- Horse ownership information
- Home farm premises information
- Premises date and location where horses co-mingle for industry activities
- Horse health records related to a horse’s status for processing
- Traceability events – health certificates issued, transport manifest documents issued, etc.
Is Canada’s traceability program going to work for U.S. horses? It doesn’t seem possible, since no one in Canada can attest to an individual horse’s status for slaughter.
If a traceability system is not in place by July 31st, what does Ag-Canada anticipate will happen to horsemeat shipments? Is it likely that this date will be extended?”