New regulations will go into effect on March 31 that will require all horses imported from the United States and slated for processing at Canadian plants to be held at a Canadian feedlot for a minimum of six months prior to processing. The new regulations come in response to heightened concerns expressed by buyers within the European Union regarding food safety concerns.
While many hope these new regulations will act as a deterrent for horses to be sent to slaughter from the United States due to the increase in both long term care and paperwork, many experts believe the change will have little or no impact on the number of horses exported to Canada for processing annually.
According to the new regulations, those exporting horses from the U. S. must sign documentation confirming their horses have not received any medications during the 60 days prior to their importation into Canada.
Welfare advocates argue this new rule will be difficult to enforce, citing numerous instances of documentation being falsified in current export procedures from the U. S. to both Canada and Mexico.
The new regulations are similar to those that have long been in practice in Mexico. The measures did not temper quality concerns and, after an audit that focused on quality control and food safety, the European Union banned the sale of horsemeat processed in Mexico intended for human consumption, stating that the exporters regularly falsified the documentation and drug records of animals being processed.
According to Tom Lenz, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACT, of the 5 million horses that are processed worldwide each year, half of them are processed in China for human consumption. The U. S. is estimated to export between 130,000 and 150,000 horses to Canada and Mexico each year for processing. There has been no legal processing of horse meat in the U. S. since the last three plants closed in 2007.
Read more at The Horse.
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