MEXICO - A block has been placed on exports of horse meat to the European Union from Mexico because of veterinary and animal welfare concerns.
The cancellation of export certificates could have a serious effect on the US horse trade.
Because of the restrictions on slaughtering horses in the US, Mexico had become a major outlet for US horses for slaughter.
The inability of Mexico to provide the guarantees necessary for export certificates follows an audit of the slaughterhouses in the country by EU vets earlier this year.
The report, just published, states: “Given the availability of veterinary medicinal products prohibited in the EU, the lack of controls on live animals, the unreliability of the food chain information and weaknesses in the traceability systems in place, the Competent Authority (CA) is not in a position to provide all the necessary guarantees specified in the export certificates.
“Post-mortem inspection records in two slaughterhouses indicate serious animal welfare problems during transport and/or at arrival to the slaughterhouses.
“Action plans provided following the previous FVO audits have not been adequately implemented and the overall situation remains unsatisfactory. A number of recommendations are made to the CA with a view to addressing the deficiencies identified during this audit.”
The Food and Veterinary Office audit report also says that horses from Mexico and the US are accompanied by owners' declarations/ affidavits (and passports for Mexican horses only) stating the medication history and a declaration on non-use of substances which are prohibited in the EU, when they arrive at the slaughterhouses.
“However, there are no official controls in place to allow the CA to verify the authenticity and reliability of these documents for Mexican horses.
“The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) does not take responsibility for the reliability of affidavits issued for horses originating in the US, and the FVO audit team found very many affidavits, which were invalid or of questionable validity, but were nonetheless accepted. Moreover, the practices for issuing affidavits for Mexican horses as observed by the FVO audit team, were such that they could not reliably support the necessary guarantees.
“The slaughterhouses visited were found to be generally compliant with the legal requirements (some minor deficiencies).
“With regard to the official controls in slaughterhouses, some deficiencies were noted in relation to post-mortem inspections in one of them and health marks were not properly designed in all three slaughterhouses.
“Examinations for Trichinella were generally acceptable.
“Regular supervisory visits are performed and documented by the CA. However, the conclusions and recommendations were not always consistent with the observations. Deadlines were given for the correction of non-conformities noted, but with one exception, no information was provided on addressing these deficiencies.”
The audit report has also raised concerns in the campaign group the Humane Society of the US.
The HSUS said that the FVO audit raises serious concerns about the traceability of US and Mexican horses and US horses account for 87 per cent of the eligible horses slaughtered in Mexico for export to the EU.
Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS, said: “This predatory industry has once again been exposed for animal abuse and reckless disregard for consumer safety.
“The decision to shut down this hub for the North American slaughter industry should result in tens of thousands of American horses no longer facing the dread and terror of long-distance transport and inhumane slaughter.
“It’s a huge moment in our campaign to end the slaughter of American horses throughout North America.”
TheMeatSite News Desk
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