An audit on two Brazilian slaughterhouses, where horsemeat is processed and shipped to Europe, revealed “serious shortcomings” in the way the meat was handled. A host of issues were detected including evidence that animals were fed drugs – including anabolic steroids – that are banned under European law.
The Humane Society International's EU policy officer Loïs Lelanchon said the “most pressing” shortcoming in the EU’s Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) report was that Brazil’s residue monitoring system fell well below EU food safety standards.
Food safety issues
“Any meat-exporting country that is not part of the EU has to have a residue monitoring plan to be able to export to the EU – and the EU has to approve this plan,” explained Lelanchon. “So basically, countries have to have equivalent food safety standards to those in the EU if they want to export here. And [with Brazil] this is not the case.
“The Brazilian authorities have to have a range of veterinary products tested to ensure certain substances are not present in the meat that is exported to the EU. This plan prohibits certain types of substances to be used in horses slaughtered for human consumption.” But in the case of Brazil, some substances that are prohibited in the EU are not prohibited in Brazil. This makes it impossible to ensure the meat that is imported into the EU complies with EU law,” added Lelanchon.
The Humane Society International said it had contacted the European Commission about the issue, but had received no response as yet. Separate attempts from GlobalMeatNews to establish the Commission’s position on the issue have also been unsuccessful.
The FVO report also found that a high number of animals transported to abattoirs either died in transit or arrived in a “state of extreme weakness”.