Officials say that the crackdown on horses entering the food supply in Europe has lead to an excess of unwanted horses without the proper paperwork to enter a slaughterhouse. According to a report by the Irish Times, officials estimate that 24,000 horses were slaughtered in factories last year, while only 6,500 have been slaughtered this year, primarily due to a tightening of regulations on horse slaughter following the horse meat crisis in Europe earlier this year.
Simon Coveney, Ireland's Minister for Agriculture, Food, and the Marine, told an Oireachtas committee on Wednesday that the Department of Agriculture is exploring measures to euthanize or provide some type of aid to the unwanted horses, which may have received bute and do not have the required paperwork or microchipping to be sent to slaughter.
As winter approaches, Coveney said the plight of the unwanted horses will become more desperate as owners struggle to keep them fed.
“We are not going to allow a single kilo of horse meat into the food chain unless it has been rigorously tested,” Coveney said. “I'm not going to reward anybody for having a large number of horses that aren't micro-chipped. But having said that, if people have horses at the moment that they can't feed and they have no outlet and no market for those horses and there's likely to be a welfare problem as a result of that, well, then we have to act on that and we will.”
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