Each year, significant quantities of horsemeat are imported into the European Union from Canada and Mexico, primarily for human consumption. Following the closure of all equine slaughterhouses in the United States in 2007, there has been a significant rise in the number of American horses transported to both Canada and Mexico for slaughter, with the subsequent export of horsemeat to the EU, among other destinations. However, horses in the US are not raised for food production and are routinely given substances, such as phenylbutazone, which are banned from use in food-producing animals in the EU. While considered safe in horses, these drugs can potentially have serious adverse affects if ingested by humans(1).
1. Is the Commission aware that a significant proportion of the horsemeat exported from Canada and Mexico derives from horses that originate in the United States and have been bought at auction — without treatment records — by kill buyers?
2. In view of this, does the Commission believe that the measures implemented by the competent authorities in Canada and Mexico are sufficient to prevent both fraud by vendors and the export of horsemeat tainted with residues of banned substances? Have Commission staff verified these measures? Does the Commission intend regularly to check these measures to ensure that they are working effectively and as intended?
3. Can the Commission provide precise details of the sampling and scientific testing methods used by the Canadian and Mexican authorities to identify residues of banned substances in horsemeat intended for export to the EU?
4. In addition to exports from Canada and Mexico, significant quantities of horsemeat are also exported to the EU from Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay. Could the Commission provide detailed information on the steps taken by these countries to comply with EU requirements governing the export of horsemeat to the EU?
5. Could the Commission confirm that all third countries seeking to export horsemeat to the EU now require a mandatory lifetime identity/history record — equivalent to the equine passports issued in the EU — for each horse presented for slaughter?