Answer given by Mr Dalli on behalf of the Commission
1. The Commission had received information on such practice and had requested the sender to provide documentation material for supporting the evidence, which has not yet been received. The Commission has also made the Canadian and Mexican authorities aware of this information in order for them to take appropriate actions to investigate and to ensure that only meat from animals treated with authorised veterinary medicines are exported to the EU, and that any residues in such meat meet the limits laid down in EU legislation
2. The Canadian and Mexican authorities have provided to the Commmission an action plan on their control measures on residues in horse meat which have been reviewed and after some revision, they were accepted as providing sufficient guarantees.
The inspection service of the Directorate General for Health and Consumers, the Food and Veterinary Office regularly carries out inspections in Member States and third countries and will in the near future carry out such inspection missions in North America and other third countries on residue controls. These missions should provide information on the effectiveness of the authorities' control measures regarding horse meat exported to the EU.
3. All third countries exporting food to the EU each year have to provide a residue monitoring plan and the results of testing of the previous year. These are reviewed by the Commission and rejected in case of deficiencies. The third countries may then provide a revised plan. The Commission is assessing if the scope of testing and the methods used can provide guarantees at least equivalent to those under EU legislation. To note that in the case of Mexico a Commission decision is in place that all horse meat consignments imported to the EU are to be tested for residues. This was adopted in 2006 as a result of an unfavourable audit. These testing results have so far been satisfactory.
4. In addition to the requirement for an approved residue control plan for equidae all third countries exporting horse meat to the EU have been requested to provide an action plan on horse meat. This plan should cover a horse identification system and treatment records on veterinary medicines, the prohibition of anabolic steroids or the implementation of a kind of a ‘split system’ for food producing horses destined for export to the EU, the control of withdrawal periods for authorised veterinary medicines and a risk based control programme comprising regular inspection of farms, collection centres and slaughterhouses. Third countries that failed to provide a satisfactory plan are being de-listed for equidae from the list of approved residue control plans.
5. For a transitional period of 3 years third countries have to provide guarantees for the horses during the last 6 months before slaughter. After that transitional period such guarantees have to be provided for the lifetime of the horse's equivalent to the EU legislation (i.e. passport system). A transitional period had also been granted in the EU for the introduction of the horse passport and is needed for a gradual establishment of suitable control systems.