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The True Cost of Canada's Horsemeat Industry

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The True Cost of Canada's Horsemeat Industry

From The Canadian Horse Defense Coalition and Canadians for the Ethical Treatment of Food Animals (CETFA), December 2011

Watch the video - The True Cost of Canada's Horsemeat Industry. Read the entire 88-page report (PDF). Warning: The written report and accompanying videos contain graphic and disturbing content. Discretion is advised.

The Canadian Horse Defence Coalition (CHDC) presents a fourth investigation documenting inhumane horse slaughter at a Canadian slaughterhouse and provides compelling evidence that the much touted Equine Identification Document (EID) program put forward by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) invites fraud.

Despite past reassurances from the CFIA and industry that horse slaughter plant conditions would be improved, this investigation demonstrates that yet a fourth Canadian slaughterhouse is in violation of humane slaughter regulations.

The CHDC has once again received undercover footage - this time from Les Viandes de la Petite-Nation, Inc., in St. Andre-Avellin, Qubec.

The footage was captured on July 13th and 14th of 2011 and was sent anonymously to the CHDC.

Those of us who have examined the video have been shocked and sickened by what we've viewed. We consulted Dr. Nicholas Dodman, an expert in animal behaviour and anesthesiology at Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Dodman had this to say: "...my final conclusion, after reviewing 150-plus horse slaughters in this series of videos, is that the process was terrifying for most of the horses and, in many cases, horribly inhumane. The inhumane treatment of horses at Les Viandes de la Petite Nation must be stopped immediately."

The evidence is clear: it is impossible, even in well-designed, conscientiously-managed, assembly-line conditions, to humanely slaughter horses. As Dr. Dodman states, "...many head shy or apprehensive horses...presented the operator of the captive bolt gun with a moving target."

Examples of stun box failures noted:

In our opinion, the system brought in by the CFIA to meet European standards for food safety and traceability is flawed and incomplete, and appears to invite fraud. Examples of issues include:

The EID system, touted by the Canadian government as a document that ensures "a continuous medical history" on each horse presented for slaughter, is far from a guarantee that food safety is being addressed.

"Dirty Little Secret - Canada's slaughter industry under fire", published by the Toronto Star on July 30, 2011, provided a close look at Canada's horse slaughter system. The article took readers from a U.S. auction to the door of a Canadian slaughterhouse. This investigation shows what lies beyond that door.

Gary Corbett, President of the federal union representing slaughterhouse veterinarians stated the following in the Toronto Star piece in regard to the EID system:

"(Veterinarians) do rely a lot on the records of the horses kept by the owners coming into the country and there are questions about how accurate or up to date they are. It's at the discretion of the owner. There's no regulatory framework to monitor it. It's kind of like an honour system."

The Star also confirmed that: "While there have been investigation of the 4 plants between 2000 and 2011, there have been no prosecutions, said a CFIA spokesperson."

Finally, John Holland, President, Equine Welfare Alliance, summarized the view of many that "Canada has had a very negative turn in the way people view them on animal issues because of this. Canada is seen as an opportunist in the way it has filled its plants with these animals after the U.S. closed its doors to the practice.

Read the entire 88-page report (PDF). Warning: The written report and accompanying videos contain graphic and disturbing content. Discretion is advised.