Tag Archives: “horse slaughtering”

Horsemeat – Hiding in Plain Sight

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Butchers_Boy1Written by Heather Clemenceau

In South Florida, 18 horses have been found slaughtered since the beginning of the year – and many more have been stolen – making it obvious that many in our international community don’t view the consumption of horse meat as taboo.  While many countries have no qualms about depersonalizing North American horses and horsemeat, it appears that horsemeat permeates the food chain in ways unimagined.   In fact, European consumers may be eating horse meat without realising it, due to inadequate labelling, a recent survey for the Humane Society International (HIS) revealed.  Not only have Europeans been eating horsemeat without realizing it,  but it can also be found in the most innocuous of places,  including picturesque country bakeries and dog food outlets attempting to capitalize on the BARF (Bones And Raw Food) craze.  Not only is it available at various Italian butchers as I’ve previously identified,  I’ve found that horsemeat is available in Dutch bakeries in southern Ontario,  and offered for sale for dog food on Kijiji and Craigslist.

I think it’s fair to say that the purchasers and consumers of these products believe that the horses are raised locally and humanely and would be surprised to learn that they are not raised for consumption and certainly do not meet European and even Canadian standards in many cases.

“Horse meat imported to Europe from third countries may also pose a risk to human health,” said Joanna Swabe, HSI Europe’s director. “Horses in the US are companion, race or work horses routinely given veterinary drugs banned for use in food-producing animals in Europe. Current measures are failing to stop these drugs from entering the food chain.” Dutch activist group Wakker Dier commissioned a study that shocked international media with the news that up  to one-third of all dutch snacks contain horsemeat (also know as rookvlees).  Although horsem2010-07-20-1butchersstalleat consumption is declining in the Netherlands and the Dutch overall do not have a problem with horsemeat, the activist group maintains that labelling is critical so that people who do not want to eat non-food companion animals are able to distinguish via proper labelling.

As a rash of horse killings plague South Florida, the odds of consumers unknowingly ingesting horse meat increases, especially if purchasing meat from an unlicensed meat vendor selling mystery meat from the back of their vehicle. Purchasers might not be able to tell the difference between horse and cow meat because they look very similar.  The slaughtered horsemeat is said to sell for up to $40 a pound. These horses are not bred for consumption, meaning they have almost certainly been treated with equine medications, resulting in contaminated meat – and that’s 50 shades of toxicity.  Not only that, but the horses have often been stolen from family farms or acquired by duplicitous means and cruelly slaughtered often while conscious.  Horsemeat is also a conduit for trichinosis, where there have been fatal outbreaks in Europe.  The dewormer that is effective against trich is also prohibited in animals used for food consumption.  Wormers are often not effective once a parasite encysts in the horse’s muscle.  So there the parasite waits, waiting to be eaten and colonized by a gourmand.  If that fact alone doesn’t result in late-night visits to WebMD,  I don’t know what will.

siftingthepast_kitchen-with-pieces-cook-and-kitchen-maid_unknown_16th-centuryWe must act to stop illegal slaughter..  Jorge Ortega, who was arrested for selling horsemeat in Florida, has made a plea deal – under this deal he will serve 18 months probation and will pay more than $1,000 in restitution to the USDA. He also must not have any contact with any horses, and after successfully completing probation, the charges will be dropped.

Dropping the charges sends the WRONG message about horse slaughter in Florida, an issue that puts horses and humans lives in danger.  We must send a strong message to law-makers in Florida that these types of lenient sentences are not acceptable! To quote Richard Couto of ARM – “Ortega had his hand in many of those farms, as far as killing the animals and selling their meat.” These slaughter farms are violent places that no one should have to live near.”  Please take action to encourage lawmakers to appropriately punish people who illegally slaughter horses!

Canada K-9

From Kijiji – Canada K-9 sells raw horsemeat for dogs. The proprietor claims that he has a “license” to obtain horsemeat or horses “when available.”

Across Canada, there appear to be a shocking number of potential suppliers of horsemeat.  I have no way to quickly authenticate or vet these links,  and it’s been some time since they were updated,  but this site lists 99 possible suppliers of horsemeat across Canada – far more than I ever imagined if the list is accurate.  A truly heartbreaking compilation of companies. Restaurants serving horsemeat are found in Calgary,  Toronto,  and British Columbia,  the site of the latest “Stop Slaughtering Us” billboard.  Horsemeat is also available variously throughout Quebec as well,  in grocery stores as well as restos.

horsemeat dog food

From Kijiji – Raw horsemeat available “government inspected.”

The Norwich Deli of Norwich, and the Dutch Village Bake Shops in Orono and Whitby sell smoked horsemeat sourced from Roos Meat in Brownsville, Ontario, which is supplied by Claude Bouvry in Alberta.  While that meat will be  legal for resale throughout Canada,  horsemeat is also advertised on Craigslist and Kijiji as dog food,  where it’s origin seems more than a little uncertain.  I wrote to two Kijiji advertisers offering horsemeat for dog food.  I figured there’s no pointing in mentioning the cruelty issue,  so I sent an attachment from a veterinary news article citing Ivermectin residues in horsemeat as being dangerous for collie breeds, with no response from the proprietor, although the ad is still running,  suggesting that the pursuit of profit trumps both science and good business practices.  I also contacted the propsiftingthepast-u_boy-with-sausages-and-dog_pieter-snyers1681e280911752_rietor at Canada K-9 dog foods in Oshawa, to ask where he sources his raw horsemeat supply.  His mysterious response?  “Well its not easy, but I have a licence to be able to get it when available.”  Sounds like someone with occasional access to a secret stash of Zyklon B….Recent discoveries in Ireland also revealed that horsemeat has been found in beef burgers,  in the case of Tesco burgers,  a DNA analysis revealed that the product contained 29% horsemeat.

Please take action in the Jorge Ortega case as outlined in the links above.  Please send a polite,  fact-based message to the delicatessens mentioned (on the web and on Facebook) as well as any horsemeat suppliers you may find on Kijiji or Craigslist.  The EU’s expanded residue testing program will eventually yield worse than anticipated results for North American horsemeat, if it has not already.  Businesses selling North American horsemeat need to be told why more than 100,000 horses slaughtered each year should never be consumed as food for humans or animals.

 

Shooting the Messenger? Why We Need to Enable Whistleblowers

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Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

Many people love to romanticize the role of the whistleblower.   After all, they play a unique and critical role in ferreting out fraud and government malfeasance, and they provide great social value to the public.  But in Canada there is no whistleblower protection for private sector workers, who are uniquely positioned to spot gaps in public safety.  While Ken Terpenning, former owner of slaughtered racehorse Silky Shark, didn’t expose an employer, I’m sure he gave great consideration to the cost/benefit analysis that all potential whistleblowers must make – what happens after speaking out?  After reading about the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition publication “Slaughterhouse Six,” Ken stepped forward  with Silky Shark’s drug records,  and subsequently wrote his own article in Harnesslink,  where he described Silky Shark’s slaughter  as personally devastating.  With the gaps filled in by Ken, the slaughter of this horse now became a right-to-know issue.  While owned by Mr. Terpenning,  Silky Shark was given phenylbutazone – “bute,” an NSAID  which is known to be a human carcinogen,  which while entirely legal, is completely banned from entering the food chain if given at any time during a horse’s lifecycle.  The CHDC followed up with the article “Proof of CFIA Failure.”

rightvswrongKen’s disclosure about Silky Shark’s  phenylbutazone use essentially confirmed yet more CFIA and slaughterhouse misfeasance, a lack of enforcement which could jeopardize the lives of others or the well-being of the public when non-food animals are used in the food chain.  The CFIA’s virtually non-existent testing protocols for phenylbutazone and other veterinary drugs are compounded by a sampling frequency too low to be meaningful for public health purposes.  The drug records certainly put the lie to the belief by the CFIA that they are running one of the world’s best food safety systems.  On numerous occasions,  journalists and watchdogs have exposed the CFIA for being  in violation of its own safety protocols. Phenylbutazone has a laundry list of grave effects in humans: According to an FDA newsletter from 2003, “Phenylbutazone is known to induce blood dyscrasias, including aplastic anemia, leukopenia, agranulocytosis, thrombocytopenia and deaths. In addition, phenylbutazone is a carcinogen, as determined by the National Toxicology Program.”

If you think that Canada’s EID system is an efficient or accurate program to identify horses who have received prohibited drugs, then you must also believe that kill buyer Tom Davis really did find good homes for 1,700 wild horses. The EID The Acme Whistle A British Classic And The Referees Favouritesystem hardly ensures a continuous medical record and certainly does not guarantee food safety, especially when one considers that the drug history of the horse can be completed at the auction and not by the owner, using a stamp instead of an original signature. It’s a barbaric, unsafe, discredited business – one giant trash heap of cruelty and drugged meat. It’s also a facade of false and incomplete paperwork, concealing incompetence and often outright deceit at the highest levels. Both the Humane Society of the United States and Front Range Equine Rescue have petitioned the USDA and the FDA to have horsemeat declared “tainted” and unfit for human consumption. In addition to the use of legal drugs, illegal horse drugging (including dermophin),  and slaughter are each inherently wrong, and both are worthy of staunch opposition.  What protocols exist to test for other drugs, especially illegal ones like “frog juice?”  I’ve asked the CFIA, but they’re certainly not talking to me.  I also asked them on what basis would they go public with anything? In fact, when providing their typical non-response to my last communication to them, Dr. Ian Alexander let slip that they’ve “got a file” on me.  Maybe I should get a FOIA on myself?  Go FOIA yourself!

whistleblower-green1Anticipated or not,  there was of course some backlash against Ken on both Latitude News and Marketplace where some readers (due to the similarly of the comments,  quite likely the same individual) took Ken to task  for “not loving Silky Shark enough” or “letting him escape through the cracks.”  A thinking person should see these types of criticisms as the vacuous nonsense that they are – Ken played no role in sending Silky Shark to slaughter, but the horse disappeared into the Amish community, which is well-known for trading in horseflesh in addition to being major puppymillers. The Amish, along with many other horse slaughter supporters, are probably not overly concerned with a European’s dinner.  On the other hand,  “the Europeans have been well-justified in placing restrictions on American-produced meat products, such as hormone-laced beef, Ractopomine-treated pork, and chlorine-washed chickens. It’s time for them to restrict imports of drugged-up horses, where the food safety case is even more obvious.

karen123

A poster on Marketplace criticizes Ken Terpenning instead of laying the blame where it belongs – with the last owner of Silky Shark, Leroy Baker (who signed EID) and the CFIA

This is a disappearing market, and EU will lay down the law in 2013. American and Canadian horses will NOT be on their menu. There is increasing evidence that horsemeat originating in the U.S. poses a public health threat to the domestic and foreign markets that fancy it. A recent notification made by the Belgian authorities to the European Commission confirmed the presence of two unauthorized substances, Clenbuterol and Phenylbutazone, in horsemeat that was imported into the European Union from Canada in June.

If a firm becomes negligent and the regulators are not up to the job, there’s another line of defence left – the whistleblower.  Whistleblowers might have changed the outcome of the listeriosis outbreak and the XL Foods recall.  Both were almost certainly preventable. As in all such incidents, those responsible would have us believe it was some kind of fluke, unforeseeable and beyond human control.  The systems used to protect food safety in modern facilities work superbly,  if they are actually implemented. They are based upon Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP), a system devised by NASA to safeguard the food of its astronauts. But when sloppy practices are allowed to creep into production and there is no immediate consequence, they become the accepted norm: a process referred to as “risk normalization.” This erodes safety margins so that disaster will inevitably strike,  as it most surely will.

The CFIA reports directly to a Minister – Gerry Ritz, whose main job it seems is to promote the commercial success of the CFIA and Agriculture Canada whilst not taking food safety seriously enough by allowing non-food animals to enter the thank_you1food chain. The reality is that commercial pressures will always tend to overwhelm safety concerns, unless there is some mechanism to keep the operator honest – if this is not going to happen within the organization then let whistleblowers lead the charge.  Now if only we could hear from former owners of Hurricane Jeff,  Major Baby, Spill the Ink,  Elite Din Pach,  and Promising Lucia……

“Eye of newt, and toe of frog,
Wool of bat, and tongue of dog,
Adder’s fork, and blind-worm’s sting,
Lizard’s leg, and owlet’s wing,–
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.”

Macbeth