By Steven Long
HOUSTON, (Horseback) – The Wall Street Journal’s Market Watch broke a story Wednesday certain to raise European eyebrows about the safety of American meat being exported from Canadian slaughterhouses. A report from the Canadian Horse Defense Coalition cites undercover surveillance and sloppy reporting, and perhaps falsification of birth records, health, and ownership documents of American race horses, and others, sold for slaughter.
The Canadian group also released graphic undercover video shot inside an abattoir.
Horses used in racing in the United States routinely receive a multitude of substances such as phenalbutazone, wormers, and insect sprays that are banned for food animals.
The report cites falsification of ownership records and health certificates.
Increasingly, concerned U.S. public officials are openly discussing a European type passport system for all horses born in the United States. Such a system would carry with it severe penalties for use of fraudulent records.
The cumbersome documentation would require detailed health data on every horse. The proposed system would be much more burdensome for horse owners than the ill fated National Animal Identification System (NAIS) proposed, and then abandoned by the USDA after howls of protest from horse owners.
Discussion of such a system began again in earnest this week after Congress removed a federal ban on taxpayer funded meat inspectors in horse slaughter facilities.
European food animals, including horses, must have passports required by law that contain the creature’s health records in minute detail from birth. Falsification of the records carries very harsh penalties.
Bute and many other drugs routinely used to maintain the health of U.S. horses is strictly prohibited in European food animals, including equines.
Almost all American horses receive phenalbutazone at some point in their lives. The drug, a proven carcinogen, never leaves the horse’s system and must be tested in the kidney to be found. It is also extremely dangerous to pregnant women if ingested. Bute also causes aplastic anemia in humans.
Recently, Horseback, confirmed that some “killer buyers” routinely falsify records of horses going to slaughter in Canada and Mexico.
In an investigation in Presidio, Texas, state Texas Animal Health Commission inspectors found the same set of Coggins papers was used repeatedly for animals coming into a holding pen for horses bound for slaughter in Mexico. The Canadian findings seem to confirm fraudulent reporting is routinely taking place on both borders.