LANC., PA 17604
Vol. 19 No.11
Our 19th Year
December 2012/January 2013
Book celebrates Cheshire Hunt’s centennial ... pg. 4
Hannah Sue Burnett wins third Fair Hill 3 star ... pg. 6
Pennsylvania Morgans win world titles ... pg. 8
BC Turf winner’s dad stands in PA for $3,500 ... pg. 23
Pennsylvania National Horse Show recap .... pg. 26
Laminitis cure on the horizon? ... pg. 11
...and much more!
by Suzanne Bush
Each year thousands of
horses are sold at auctions in
the United States and shipped
to Canada and Mexico for
slaughter. The abattoirs process
the horsemeat for consumers in
Europe and Japan. The auctions
have provided options for people
who can no longer afford to keep
their horses, or for people whose
horses are no longer useful to
them. It’s an unfortunate reality.
But here’s another slice of real-
ity that is bound to cause major
disruptions in the pipeline that
takes horses from auctions to
abattoirs in Canada and Mexico.
The European Union (EU)
requires traceability for all foods
imported for human consumption
in member nations. This is not
new. However, beginning in July,
2013 the traceability requirement
for horsemeat will be enforced.
Traceability from Farm
to Fork Is Paramount
Traceability. It’s the core
principle in the EU program
aimed at food safety “from farm to
fork,” and it will require extensive
documentation for every horse.
The so-called Equine Identification
Document (EID) does not leave
much room for interpretation.
According to the Canadian Food
Inspection Agency (CFIA) website
explaining the EID and how it is
to be used, “the EID must contain
both written and visual identifica-
tion as well as medical history and
a signed declaration by the owner
of the equine. The owner declara-
tion under part 3 of the EID must
bear the original signature of the
The CFIA requires an exten-
sive veterinary history for each
horse bound for slaughter. There
is a list of all pharmaceuticals
that are permitted, along with
specific withdrawal periods. For
instance, if a horse was wormed
Unwanted Horse Population Set to Soar as EU Prepares to Close Door
using Ivermectin on October 1,
2012, the horse could not have
been processed until October 29,
2012 because the CFIA requires
a 28-day withdrawal period for
Ivermectin. There are also some
commonly-used pharmaceuticals,
such as Clenbuterol and Phenyl-
butazone (bute) that are absolute-
ly prohibited. The meat from any
horse treated with these drugs can
never enter the food system. Bute
is one of the most widely-used
equine drugs in the US; it’s likely
that there are fewer US horses
that have never been treated with
bute than there are horses that can
sing the National Anthem.
Already inspectors from the
EU have been on the ground in
Canada, looking for assurance
that the traceability requirements
are being enforced. In the past
several months horsemeat that
was contaminated with sub-
stances that are explicitly banned
by the EU has been shipped from
Canada, and identified via inspec-
tions in Europe.
One-Day Shutdown
Either coincidentally or
through serendipity, in October
several Canadian abattoirs were
briefly closed to trucks haul-
ing horses from the US. This
one-day shutdown was vari-
ously attributed to bureaucratic
slip-ups in France or Canada,
misunderstandings, or even fan-
tasies. “What I can tell you is the
(CFIA) has not issued any direc-
tives,” Guy Gravelle said. Grav-
elle is a media relations officer at
CFIA, who said he knew nothing
about the incident. “As far as I’m
aware,” he added, “meat products
are safe to eat.”
Haulers bringing in truck-
loads of horses from US auctions
may be able to meet CFIA re-
quirements through a group dec-
laration of the suitability of the
animals in their control. Although
this process is less exacting than
the individual EID certification,
it still requires the individual re-
sponsible for the lot to certify the
veterinary history of the animals.
And the processing plants are
required to maintain records that
will effectively trace any animal
back to a specific shipment or lot
during or after processing. When
the processing plants were closed
briefly in October, the haulers
who were turned away wound up
with trucks full of horses with no-
where to go. It was obviously not
a good situation for the horses,
even as it was little more than an
inconvenience to the haulers.
Humane Treatment
In addition to the rigorous
equine identification plan the EU
has established to ensure safety
of the horsemeat processed in
Canadian and Mexican abattoirs,
there is an added component to
EU regulations: humane treat-
ment of animals destined for
slaughter. Built into the frame-
work of food safety rules for all
EU member states is the require-
ment that animals are housed, fed
and treated humanely.
Humane treatment of the
horses that wind up in this predic-
ament should be top of mind for
anyone who has even a passing
interest in horses. But it isn’t. It’s
clear the landscape for auction-
bound horses in the US is going
to shift dramatically as a result of
the more meticulous enforcement
of food safety regulations in the
EU. This is bad news for thou-
sands of horses.
(Continued on page 22)
Holiday Gift Guide ...
pgs. 14 - 21
Buyers check out horses being auctioned at the New Holland Sales Stable, one of the east coast’s larg-
est horse auctions, where among buyers are those shipping horses to slaughter in Canada and Mexico.
As the European Union prepares to enforce food safety regulations barring horses that have ever been
treated with bute and other drugs, the fate of unwanted horses will become even more uncertain.
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