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Parliamentary questions
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25 February 2013
E-002049-13
Question for written answer E-002049-13
to the Commission
Rule 117
Mitro Repo (S&D)

 Subject:  European horsemeat scandal
 Answer in writing 

As a result of the discovery made during routine monitoring by the frozen food manufacturer Findus, a number of food manufacturers around Europe have reported in recent days that the products they have been selling to consumers do not accord with the product information provided to consumers. In many cases, products have contained horsemeat instead of beef. It has emerged from discussions that in certain European countries several thousand more horses die each year than official statistics suggest. The majority of these horses die or are slaughtered in places other than slaughterhouses.

The number of horses taken to slaughterhouses is limited, inter alia, by the low producer price of horsemeat and the length and cost of the transport involved. Other obstacles to slaughter may be the fact that a horse is not registered or that medicines have been administered to it. Moreover, the charges made by slaughterhouses often do not even cover the cost of bringing a horse to the slaughterhouse.

The situation is further aggravated by the fact that, pursuant to Regulation (EC) No 1774/2002 on by-products, horses which die or are slaughtered on farms constitute waste of risk Category c, and in many Member States responsibility for disposing of the carcass rests with the animal’s keeper.

As a result, many owners are interested either in burying carcasses themselves or in selling them to businesses which take them elsewhere for processing. As no one monitors such activity, it is likely that horses are illegally diverted for use as raw material in the global food industry.

1. Bearing in mind that, pursuant to Commission Regulation (EC) No 504/2008, all horses living within EU territory must have an identification document, and such particulars as the horse’s date of birth and notified date of death must be entered in a database, how is it possible for thousands of horses to disappear without trace in Europe every year?

2. What action will the Commission take to ensure that owners are given the opportunity to have their horses either slaughtered safely or else finally disposed of in some other way which safeguards public health?

3. Will the Commission ascertain where dead horses go in Europe and how many of them are, for example, surrendered for use by the food industry and as raw materials in foods intended for human consumption?

Original language of question: FIOJ C 372 E, 19/12/2013
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