How will the new EU requirements for horse meat imports affect our horse industry?

Below is a news release from yesterday. The new EU rules coming into effect in April 2010, require that either slaughtered horses have complete health records showing they have not received banned substances, or a 180 day (6 month) quarantine is required. The new rules will mean that horses coming from auctions and other souces will have to be kept drug free on a feedlot for at least half a year. How will this impact horse welfare and the horse community in general?

Here is the link to the requirements letter send to "third" countries, which Canada did receive, however the CFIA has yet to make the program public:

Horse Groups Call on CFIA for Answers on EU Equine Food Safety Requirements

Today, the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition (CHDC) and Equine Welfare Alliance (EWA) are asking the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to respond regarding a European Commission requirements letter dated 17 April, 2009 from Paola Testori Coggi, deputy director-general of the Directorate-General for Health and Consumer Protection.

The letter notified affected "third" countries of requirements for equines (horses, donkeys and cross-breds) intended for food production, including the identification of horses intended for food production, a system of identity verification, a prohibition on the use of anabolic steroids and other prohibited drugs, and a minimum 6-month withdrawal period for veterinary medicinal products. The letter stipulates immediate steps required to implement a food safety program for countries supplying horse meat to the European Union.

To date, the CHDC and the EWA have not received a response to their inquiry letter previously sent to Dr. Claude Boissonneault of the CFIA's Red Meat Species Program. Also, the CFIA has yet to make public the news of this pivotal mandate that affects the entire multi-billion dollar horse industry, including horse racing, performance show horses, breeders, rodeo, and all horse owners.

In addition, countries affected must have submitted an Action Plan by this date, yet there has been no indication this has been done. "It is incredible that the CFIA has yet to inform Canadians and Americans alike, about this far-reaching program that will impact the entire horse industry", says Sinikka Crosland of the CHDC. "There are thousands of horses going to slaughter every week in Canada, from both Canada and the U.S. There is presently no tracking or passport system for horses, and many are routinely given a wide range of performance enhancing drugs throughout their lives", added John Holland of EWA. "We see a huge potential for horse welfare concerns, as horses will be held for more than 6 months at transfer stations, without basic care provided and they will not be allowed to administer worming or pain medications to these horses", explained Ms. Crosland.

Due to the immediate obligations affecting the entire horse community, the CHDC, the EWA and their affiliates request that the CFIA respond without delay, and communicate to all horse groups and people affected. Citizens are urged to write to the CFIA, asking for details about this critically important program.

The CHDC is a collective of people and groups working to protect equines from slaughter for human consumption, as well as the export of live horses to other countries for the same purpose.

The EWA is an umbrella organization representing equine welfare organizations, equine rescues and individuals involved in a grass roots effort dedicated to ending the slaughter of American horses.

For further information: Sinikka Crosland, Canadian Horse Defence Coalition,, (250) 768-4803; John Holland, Equine Welfare Alliance, (540) 268-5693,

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Comment by Lesley Danko on August 29, 2009 at 9:45pm
Where do unwanted horse go? There is a fate worse than death.
Comment by Loni on August 26, 2009 at 3:02pm
There is no excuse for horse slaughter. None. These are our companion animals. We are very close to our horses. They basically are our pets. At least, humane, caring people regard them this way.
Hopefully, if the EU pushes these regs this will bring an end to slaughter in North America.
When someone takes on the life of a horse, it is their responsibility to ensure that if they can no longer keep the horse, that a humane alternative is in place. And slaughter is not a humane alternative.
These people who send a horse to auction, knowing full well that the horse will likely go to a kill buyer, to make a few pitiful dollars off of the horse's life are a disgrace to the true horseman.
Comment by Jackie Cochran on August 26, 2009 at 12:12pm
I do not eat horse meat, never have. But if I did I would NEVER eat an American horse because I know all the drugs and odd concoctions that Americans feed their horses. YUCK!!!!
Congratulations to Europe for finally addressing this problem. I reached my opinion over 30 years ago, but I realize effective regulations often take decades to develop.
And of course this closes off a market for unwanted American horses, since they get to the meat market with no health records.

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