Thursday, February 28, 2013

USDA May Approve Horse Slaughter Plant

U.S.D.A. May Approve Horse Slaughter Plant

The United States Department of Agriculture is likely to approve a horse slaughtering plant in New Mexico in the next two months, which would allow equine meat suitable for human consumption to be produced in the United States for the first time since 2007.

Sally Ryan for The New York Times
Some horse auctions, like this one in Shipshewana, Ind., also deal in animals destined for slaughter in Canada and Mexico.
The plant, in Roswell, N.M., is owned by Valley Meat Company, which sued the U.S.D.A. and its Food Safety and Inspection Service last fall over the lack of inspection services for horses going to slaughter. Horse meat cannot be processed for human consumption in the United States without inspection by the U.S.D.A., so horses destined for that purpose have been shipped to places like Mexico and Canada for slaughter.
Justin DeJong, a spokesman for the agriculture department, said that “several” companies had asked the agency to re-establish inspection of horses for slaughter. “These companies must still complete necessary technical requirements and the F.S.I.S. must complete its inspector training,” he wrote in an e-mail referring to the food inspection service.
He said the Obama administration was urging Congress to reinstate an effective ban on the production of horse meat for human consumption that lapsed in 2011.
The impending approval comes amid growing concern among American consumers that horse meat will somehow make its way into ground beef products in the United States as it has done in Europe. Major companies, including Tesco, Nestlé and Ikea, have had to pull food from shelves in 14 countries after tests showed that products labeled 100 percent beef actually contained small amounts of horse meat. Horse meat is not necessarily unsafe, and in some countries, it is popular. But some opponents of horse slaughtering say consumption of horse meat is ill-advised because of the use of various kinds of drugs in horses.
“We now have the very real prospect of a horse slaughtering plant operating in the U.S. for the first time in six years,” said Wayne Pacelle, chief executive of the Humane Society of the United States. The last plant that slaughtered horse meat for human consumption in the United States closed in 2007, after Congressional approval of an appropriations bill that included a rider forbidding the U.S.D.A. from financing the inspection of such meat. That rider was renewed in subsequent appropriations bills until 2011, when Congress quietly removed it from an omnibus spending act.
That opened the door for a renewal of the horse slaughter business, but only if the U.S.D.A. re-established inspections. The agency never moved to restart its equine inspection service.
Valley Meat sued Tom Vilsack, the agriculture secretary, and Al Almanza, the head of thefood safety inspection service, charging that the department’s failure to offer inspection of horse meat violated the Federal Meat Inspection Act.
That law directs the agriculture department to appoint inspectors to examine “all amenable species” before they enter a slaughtering facility.
“Amenable species” were animals subject to the act the day before it was enacted, including cattle, sheep, pigs, goats, horses and mules.
A. Blair Dunn, the lawyer for Valley Meat, said that the Justice Department recently asked the company for an additional 60 days to file a response to its lawsuit. Mr. Dunn said the Justice Department indicated it was asking for the extra time because “the U.S.D.A. plans to issue a grant of inspection within that time, which would allow my clients to begin operations.” Mr. Dunn said that Valley Meat had hired experts in the humane treatment of horses for slaughter and was training employees. The company is not planning to sell meat in the United States, at least at the outset of its operations. “Last spring, they were in discussions with several companies in European countries about exporting their products,” he said of his clients. “I’m sure if markets do develop in this country for horse meat for human consumption, they will look at them.”
He cautioned that Valley Meat might still face challenges to opening, noting that several parties had filed briefs on both sides of the case. The Humane Society has petitioned the Agriculture Department and the Food and Drug Administration to delay approval of any facility for horse slaughter, raising questions about the presence of drugs like phenylbutazone, which is used to treat inflammation in horses.
Conversely, R-CALF USA, an organization representing about 5,000 family cattle ranching operations, has filed a brief supporting Valley Meat’s legal case. Bill Bullard, its chief executive, said his members needed horse slaughtering facilities to humanely dispose of the horses they used in their businesses once they became old or incapacitated.
“Beginning in 2006, when inspections were temporarily prohibited, these U.S. horses continue to be slaughtered in foreign countries like Mexico and Canada,” Mr. Bullard said. “We believe the Mexicans do not adhere to the same humane standards as in the United States, and so some of our members won’t sell their horses.”
Mr. Pacelle said he had been surprised to see anyone from the beef industry supporting horse slaughter. “For the cattle industry, it is a self-destructive move, since the more horse meat that’s circulating, the greater the chance it will infiltrate the food supply and decrease consumer confidence in beef,” he said.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Oklahoma Leaders Pursue First Horse Slaughterhouse

We had the privilege of speaking with Ms. Janet Pearson and are encouraged by her spirit and fight for horses.  Thank you Ms. Pearson for a great editorial and being a voice for horses!  ~Declan

Oklahoma leaders pursue first horse slaughterhouse

A retired mare wanders a pasture together with other retired mares. Oklahoma lawmakers are expediting bills that would allow commercial horse slaughterhouses in the state. Associated Press file

By JANET PEARSON Associate Editor As posted on Tulsa World
Published: 2/24/2013  1:57 AM
Last Modified: 2/24/2013  6:47 AM

Who knew we had so many animal-rights nuts in the Oklahoma Legislature? 

Last week, both the state House and Senate passed by huge margins separate measures allowing horse slaughterhouses to operate in the state. Though lawmakers haven't been doing a lot of talking - the Senate version passed without debate - the party line is that a slaughterhouse in these parts would be a humane solution to addressing the problem of aging, unwanted or sickly horses.

It's possible a version could be headed to the governor's desk as early as this week. Or, the two separate bills might end up in conference committee.

In any case, seldom have lawmakers acted with such swiftness. Could it be their compassion for horses is that strong?

Or could it be something else?

Since the ban on federal slaughterhouse inspections was lifted in 2011, there's been a flurry of activity to open new plants in a handful of states. The few horse slaughterhouses in operation recently in the U.S. closed by 2007, when a federal ban on inspections was imposed.

The main argument in favor of slaughterhouses around here is that they could be a humane way to end the lives of horses that have few if any prospects for a better life ahead. Horses are being abandoned and neglected in huge numbers, claim proponents, who insist that a slaughterhouse is the only solution.

It doesn't seem to bother them that abandonment and neglect are possible felonies; in fact, they seem perfectly willing to provide a for-profit legislative remedy to help these would-be felons. And it apparently is lost on them that there are much more humane options for ending a horse's life if that's necessary. But then, these more humane alternatives don't produce a profit for anyone.

Graphic proof

Just how serious is this unwanted horse problem? There's conflicting data. While abandonment and neglect could be factors in the numbers going to slaughter, the poor economy and the increasing demand from foreign markets also likely are major influences. In any case, there are other remedies to abandonment and neglect than commercial slaughter.

While proponents of slaughterhouses are quick to pounce on the neglect and abandonment issue, they avoid mentioning the increase in horse theft and property crimes experienced around communities located near slaughterhouses. Nor do they talk about the sometimes substantial legal costs that can be a consequence of slaughterhouses.

These issues and many others have been detailed and analyzed in a series of reports beginning in late 2011 through early 2012 in Forbes magazine, by contributing writer Vickery Eckhoff. One of those is the transport issue.

Eckhoff referenced a 900-page report done by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2008 regarding its problems in overseeing the welfare of horses during transport.

That report graphically confirmed the USDA's inability to ensure humane transport, through photos showing "extensive injuries, deaths and inhumane treatment" of horses transported to U.S. slaughterhouses.

The USDA could not ensure that the required documentation on transport was provided, because the paperwork function operated on the "honor system." As a result, much documentation was incomplete or missing altogether.

Canadian authorities also found in their reviews of required documentation "missing and incomplete information on the horses' previous owners or agents and misidentification of horses in accompanying photographs," according to Eckhoff's research.

The transport oversight problems raise this question: If federal agencies already are having difficulty in carrying out duties related to horse slaughter, does anybody seriously think they're going to do an adequate job overseeing new U.S. slaughterhouses? Remember, Oklahoma long has had a problem with puppy mills, in large part due to lack of oversight on both the federal and state levels to monitor breeding. Does anyone have faith in this day and time that the necessary resources will be devoted to the monitoring of a horse slaughterhouse?

'Horribly inhumane'

As to the argument that most horses sent to slaughter are sickly and old: First of all, the foreign consumers don't want to dine on sick, old horses. They want young, healthy horses, and data show that's exactly what they're getting.

According to Eckhoff's reporting, a study done by a Colorado State University veterinarian showed that 90 percent going to slaughter "are healthy, sound horses with no behavior problems." She cited another study showing that under 4 percent of the horses sold for slaughter were older than age 10.

Other statistics from the USDA show that 92 percent of horses sent to slaughter arrive in "good" condition. So much for the argument that slaughter is just necessary euthanasia.

And just how humane is a slaughterhouse end? Eckhoff took that question to Dr. Nicholas Dodman, an anesthesiologist and veterinary behaviorist at Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, who viewed film of the slaughter of more than 150 horses in Canada. The video revealed that in at least 40 percent of the stun attempts, the horses "were not rendered immediately unconscious, or revived after stunning."

"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," Dodman said.

Other options

According to industry data, about 900,000 horses are disposed of each year in the U.S. in ways other than commercial slaughter. Obviously the existing methods work pretty well and surely could absorb many more. Humane euthanasia and disposal are affordable procedures - certainly less costly than the consequences of new slaughterhouses. But again, these more humane options don't generate a profit for anyone.

At this point, it appears the only hope for stopping this outrage is a veto by Gov. Mary Fallin or perhaps an initiative petition effort to repeal the legislation. Needless to say, expect a lawsuit.

Why is it our lawmakers are only too eager to expedite something like this, and every bit as reluctant to take on the important issues plaguing our state?

Original Print Headline: The Horse-Slayers

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Horsing Around Behind the Scenes of Cavalia

These amazing, beautiful horses and wonderful, talented actors make a great team!  I would LOVE to go see them perform one day!  Who knows maybe I will.  I am soooo glad that the horses are treated with so much love and respect.  They are not pushed to do anything they don't feel comfortable doing and they get to choose if they want to work and train!  The focus is on making training fun, all about play and forming a bond and connection with the horses.  ~Declan


Horsing Around Behind the Scenes of Cavalia

Growing up in a small town in Alberta, I was no stranger to wildlife. I spent weekends with friends on their farms, afternoons fishing for minnows in the creek and summers at camp learning archery and canoeing. My family had a lakefront cabin in Northern Saskatchewan where we were more likely to see deer and ducks than people. Until I took a tour through the Cavalia stables in Burbank, however, I’d never seen anything quite as majestic as their horses.

Photo by Ross A. Benson
Photo by Ross A. Benson

Cavalia is a performance art show created by one of the founders of Cirque du Soleil. The newest production, Odysseo, combines equestrian arts, acrobatics and theatrical effects to portray the bond that is developed between humans and horses in an experience unlike any other. The 67 horses and 45 artists spend overwhelming amounts of time together in order to develop a relationship and language all their own that allows them to create the art that thousands have experienced around the world.

 A groomer braids a horse that arrived hours prior getting ready for a rehearsal. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)
A groomer braids a horse that arrived hours prior getting ready for a rehearsal. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

It was apparent from the moment that I walked into the stables that these horses were more than just performance-animals, but rather were members of an exclusive, close-knit family. The groomers washed and braided the horses’ tails and manes with extreme care; the riders showed more affection for their horses than some people show their significant other. And that affection was reciprocated. One horse, Bravas, an Arabian born in the US in 2006, spent a solid 15 minutes nuzzling his rider, Elise Verdoncq. Even without having seen the show, it would be obvious to any passerby that these two were a close pair.

When speaking with Elise, it was apparent that the horses that she works with are extremely important to her. Riding since childhood, Verdoncq, born and raised in France, snapped up the opportunity to join the Cavalia team when the original show was still touring, almost four years ago. She has been on the road almost consistently since then with her horses.

When asked about the training routine that she and the horses go through, Verdoncq was quick to explain that the most important aspect was for everyone to have fun. “We have to keep them interested so we allow them to train how they want to,” she said. She continued to explain that the horses know what they need to do, so training is largely just an opportunity for them to play. It’s clear that the horses are in charge – if one isn’t up for performing, that’s okay; there’s an understudy for that. If one doesn’t feel like training, well, “that’s life,” says Verdoncq. One thing is certain though; with the freedom the horses have and the trust they have in their riders, every show experience will be unique to that night.

After my chat with Verdoncq, I was fortunate enough to catch up with Vice Mayor of Burbank, Emily Gabel-Luddy, who was also enjoying a behind-the-scenes tour of the Cavalia stables. Gabel-Luddy is no stranger to horses; she currently owns a retired show horse and was once a western rider herself. She’s looking forward to the impact that Cavalia’s Odysseo will have on Burbank’s local economy. She explains that the show will increase visibility of the city, attracting tourists and bolstering sales in the community. However, she’s also very excited for the show itself. “It’s a magical show,” she says. “The horses almost seem human the way they respond to the riders.”

Saddles cleaned and ready for opening night. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)
Saddles cleaned and ready for opening night. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

One thing is certain about Cavalia’s Odysseo; no where else will you see the level of trust and devotion between humans and horses than at this show, and because of this, you’re sure to have an experience that won’t soon be forgotten.

Cavalia’s Odysseo opens on February 27, 2013.
CLICK HERE for videos and more information

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Australian Slaughterhouses Face Uncertain Future If European Horse Meat Scandal Reins In Exports

What will happen to the horse meat market now?  Will demand for horse meat go down?  Will slaughter houses start to close?  ~Declan

** For more frequent updates on the European horse meat scandal, please also visit, Children 4 Horses on Facebook where more articles and updates are also posted **

Australian slaughterhouses face uncertain future if European horse meat scandal reins in exports

Meramist Pty Ltd at Old Gympie Rd, Caboolture
GALLOPING DEMAND: Meramist Pty Ltd at Old Gympie Rd, Caboolture is the only Australian abattoir still selling horse meat for human consumption. Source: The Sunday Mail (Qld)
SEVEN hundred horses a month - many young fillies and colts bred for racing - are slaughtered at two Australian abattoirs and shipped overseas for human consumption, including to Europe, the centre of the horsemeat scandal.
The majority are slaughtered in Queensland at Caboolture's Meramist Abattoir, where 500 horses are processed each month.
A further 200 a month are killed at a South Australian abattoir, Samex Peterborough (formerly Metro Velda).
Thousands more are processed at 33 knackeries across Australia for petmeat and hides each year, with industry reports indicating the annual cull totals around 40,000.
While there is no clear connection between Australian horsemeat and the contaminated beef products at the heart of the European scandal, after it arrives overseas its labelling becomes the responsibility of the importing country.
It is this lack of regulation that has allowed horsemeat to contaminate beef products in Europe.
The scandal began in Ireland after routine testing by a food safety authority turned up high levels of horsemeat and pork in a range of "beef" products.
Horsemeat since has been found in some UK kebabs and burgers and other beef products, including frozen lasagne in Britain and across the EU including France, Germany and Italy.The scandal began in Ireland after routine testing by a food safety authority turned up high levels of horsemeat and pork in a range of "beef" products.
Horse butchery graphic
Source: The Sunday Mail (Qld)
Horsemeat is considered a delicacy in some countries, particularly France and Belgium, home to some of the EU's biggest horsemeat importers.
As the scandal grows, both Australian slaughterhouses face an uncertain future, with demand for horsemeat expected to plummet.
Caboolture's Meramist is Australia's largest abattoir producing horsemeat for human consumption, and is owned by Belgian firm Benimplex NV.
New Zealand horses also are butchered for human consumption by a Meramist subsidiary, Clover Export.
South Australia's Samex Peterborough processes its meat for Belgian company Velda NV.
At the Caboolture abattoir, horses are moved into a kill box at the plants, stunned and bled out after being attached to a conveyer system and inverted.
"All horses at Meramist are excess to owner requirements," said Meramist general manager Mike Eathorne, who refused to be interviewed by The Sunday Mail.
In a written statement, Mr Eathorne said: "They are processed in a humane manner".
Horse and animal groups say the mass killing is cruel and wouldn't be necessary if government did more to control breeding and aided adoptions of unwanted horses.
Mr Eathorne said all of Meramist's horsemeat is sold for human consumption
to Japan, Russia and Europe, but he denied Meramist was linked to any tainted beef products.
Mr Eathorne said he doubted the abattoir would be impacted by the scandal, but others saw a future backlash against horsemeat in Europe.
"It hasn't hit yet, but it is certainly a likelihood," one abattoir horse buyer said.
Samex general manager Gary Marriott agreed the horsemeat scandal would have a negative impact on future exports.
"Anytime you get adverse publicity, you're going to have repercussions," he said.
Animal and horse welfare groups are pleased the scandal has brought the slaughter of thousands of young and generally healthy Australian horses into the public eye.
Animals Australia spokeswoman Lisa Chalk said the unnecessary killing of young and healthy horses must be stopped.
She said there was a "glaring double standard" that Australians don't eat horsemeat but are part of a global food chain that supplies horsemeat for human consumption.
"It's a public interest story that we're part of this food chain," Ms Chalk said.
As investigations continue in Europe, Australian regulators are ready to act should any link be established between the contaminated beef products and Australian horsemeat exports.
A spokesman for The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry said it was keeping a close eye on developments in Europe.

Russia Seeks EU Guarantees Over Horse Meat Scandal

I don't know how the EU could make this kind of guarantee to Russia or anyone else right now.  ~Declan

** For more frequent updates on the European horse meat scandal, please also visit, Children 4 Horses on Facebook where more articles and updates are also posted **

Russia seeks EU guarantees over horse meat scandal

Published 7:02 am, Friday, February 22, 2013  As Posted on
MOSCOW — Russia may suspend meat imports from European Union nations because of the horse meat scandal, an official said Thursday.

Gennady Onishchenko, Russia's chief sanitary official, told Ekho Moskvy radio that he has sent a letter to the European Commission requesting a guarantee that meat products sold to Russia don't contain horse meat.

Onishchenko said that Russia would have to temporarily suspend meat imports from EU nations if the bloc fails to provide the assurances, and also called on Russians to choose locally produced meat.

Bulgaria, Portugal and Spain on Thursday became the latest countries to detect horse meat in food products labeled as beef in the widening European food scandal.

In Bulgaria, the government said that DNA tests conducted in Germany had found imported frozen dishes being sold in a supermarket chain to be as high as 80 percent horse meat.

The tests were ordered last week when suspicious frozen lasagna dishes were withdrawn from markets in Bulgaria.
Officials on Spain's Canary Islands said they had seized one metric ton of hamburger patties with varying levels of horse meat ranging from 5 percent to 40 percent per patty.

And in Portugal, authorities said they found and seized 12,410 packages of frozen lasagna containing horse meat.
— Associated Press

US Horsemeat Makes Its Way To European Union - Health Concerns Raised Over Dangerous Drugs

A large amount of horse meat if the European Union comes from American horses who have been slaughtered in Mexico and Canada.  Bute is a banned substance from food animals in the EU and Europeans should be worried as American horses are not regulated for Bute.  ~Declan

** For more frequent updates on the European horse meat scandal, please also visit, Children 4 Horses on Facebook where more articles and updates are also posted **

US Horsemeat Makes its Way to European Union

Health concerns raised over dangerous drugs

By Kelly Ni
Epoch Times Staff
As posted on The Epoch TimesCreated: February 20, 2013Last Updated: February 20, 2013

A horsemeat butcher in northern France. The Humane Society is concerned about American horses being sold for overseas slaughter as well as the health risks of people eating American horses. (Philippe Huguen/AFP/Getty Images)
A horsemeat butcher in northern France. The Humane Society is concerned about American horses being sold for overseas slaughter as well as the health risks of people eating American horses. (Philippe Huguen/AFP/Getty Images)
American horses are sold to slaughter factories in Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay. Many are concerned that the slaughtered American horses, which were not raised for human consumption, eventually make their way into the food chain and could pose serious health concerns. 
Horse slaughter factories for human consumption once existed in America; there were three factories owned by foreign companies. 
The factories shipped the horsemeat to the world’s top horsemeat consumers—Europe and Japan—where eating horsemeat is considered a delicacy, or at least normal. Two of the U.S. factories were in Texas, and one was in Illinois. 
In 2006, the U.S. Department of Agriculture wanted to close U.S. horse slaughter factories, so they removed funding for the required meat inspections. The slaughterhouses were forced to pay for inspections out-of-pocket until the Supreme Court ruled that slaughterhouses could not pay for their own inspections.
The two Texas plants closed first, and the Illinois plant closed in 2007. Since then, there have been some unsuccessful efforts and petitions to get horse slaughterhouses operating in the United States again. 
Yet even with the ban on horse slaughterhouses in the United States, U.S. horses were still being sold and slaughtered in other countries. 
“People will take their horses to auction, and many think they will get a wonderful home,” said Valerie Pringle, equine protection specialist at the Humane Society of the United States. “Many are bought by kill buyers and those kill buyers shove them onto trucks and take them to either Canada or Mexico.”
The horse gets a green ticket on their back end, indicating that they are slated to be slaughtered. Wild horses, however, cannot be sold for slaughter. The buyer must sign a contract stating that they will not kill the wild horse, according to Pringle. 
She said that wild horses are protected in the United States, but that they “keep finding evidence of them showing up for slaughter.”
The Human Society published an investigation in October 2012 into the availability of horsemeat in Belgium, France, and the Netherlands. The report states that Canada and Mexico were the two top horsemeat exporters. This was before the current scandal broke which has revealed that meat producers across Europe, in countries where horse is not normally consumed, are falsely selling horse in products labeled as beef.

What’s in US Horsemeat?

Pringle pointed out that cattle get a tag in the ear at birth, and every single kind of medication and treatment they receive is documented and recorded. Horses in the United States, however, do not. Owners and veterinarians are not required to keep a record for their horse, either. 
“The problem with horses in the U.S. is that their drug histories aren’t tracked,” she said.
According to Pringle, U.S. horses are given a lot of drugs in their lifetime. Some drugs that the horses receive are legal such as Phenylbutazone, also known as bute, which is a pain and fever reducer for animals. 
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) prohibits bute from being used in food-producing animals intended for human consumption, and according to the FDA, only dogs and horses are allowed to receive the drug.
Pringle said that horses typically live for 20–30 years. Because of their long lifespans, it is common for them to undergo many medical treatments. 
“Use in horses is limited to use in horses not intended for food. There are currently no approved uses of Phenylbutazone in food-producing animals,” states an official FDA announcement from 2003. 
“Phenylbutazone is known to induce blood dyscrasias, including aplastic anemia, leukopenia, agranulocytosis, thrombocytopenia, and deaths,” according to the FDA.
“Hypersensitivity reactions of the serum-sickness type have also been reported. In addition, Phenylbutazone is a carcinogen, as determined by the National Toxicology Program,” states the announcement. 
In 1949, Phenylbutazone was marketed for people to use for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and gout, but once people started to experience “severe toxic reactions,” the drug was taken off the market and banned, according to the FDA. 
Other drugs U.S. horses receive are not legal. 
Some racehorses are given “cobra venom, cocaine, [or] south American tree frog juice, which is 40 times as strong as morphine and masks the pain so if their leg is compromised they can still run on it,” Pringle said. 
The horse slaughter border business works something like this: the horses are bought at an auction, crammed onto a truck, and transported south or north, and something like a shipper’s certificate is signed, according to Pringle. 
“It says, ‘As the owner of this horse, to the best of my knowledge, this horse has never received any banned drugs,’” she said about the certificate.
However, the new owners have only owned the horses for 24 hours. 
“They sign this affidavit to the best of their knowledge,” Pringle said. “That is how they are allowed over the border. You can see it’s ripe for fraud.”

EU Strengthening Their Food Origin Traceability

Europe’s horsemeat scandal found fraud in the labeling of beef products. Europe’s supermarket shelves contained beef labeled solely “beef,” but traces of horsemeat were found in the beef.
According to European Union rules, that labeling is misleading. In mid-February 2013, EU Health and Consumer Policy Commissioner Tonio Borg “called for a reinforcement of DNA and Phenylbutazone tests throughout the EU,” according to an official Feb. 15 memo.
The EU and Canada have also banned bute from being administered to food-producing animals. 
The EU gets the majority of their horsemeat from Canada and Mexico, and the majority of that is from American horses, according to Pringle. 
“I would want to question the safety of that meat … if these American horses have gotten in the food chain,” she said.
In 2010, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) set new rules on horsemeat exports after the EU Food and Veterinary Office discovered that the Canadian system and others did not have records for their horses, according to a USDA Foreign Agricultural Service Global Agriculture Information Network report.
“The audit found that there was no system to segregate horses for food from those
in the general population,” the reported states. 
Now, any horse in a Canadian slaughterhouse must have an Equine Information Document. The document asks for the medical records of the horse for the past 180 days or “during the time you owned the animal,” according to the CFIA website.

Somebody's "Throwaway" Now Saves Others

Lucy and her young foal Hope were saved from slaughter and have been given a second chance at life. Even though Hope had deformed legs, she was still WANTED and now has a wonderful life.  Part of Lucy's job is now to give back and help rescue other horses from slaughter.  Read about Lucy and Hope's story and the wonderful women who saved them.  ~Declan

Somebody's 'throwaway' now saves others


Rescued: Kriss Pless with her horse, Lucy, who was saved from the meat market and now resides in a stall at the Burnaby Horsemens' Association. Pless adopted Lucy from J&M Acres horse rescue in Maple Ridge. She takes Lucy to two North Vancouver schools to educate the children about horses and to fundraise for more rescues.

Rescued: Kriss Pless with her horse, Lucy, who was saved from the meat market and now resides in a stall at the Burnaby Horsemens' Association. Pless adopted Lucy from J&M Acres horse rescue in Maple Ridge. She takes Lucy to two North Vancouver schools to educate the children about horses and to fundraise for more rescues.

Photograph by: Jennifer Moreau , BURNABY NOW

In the summer of 2002, Lucy, a small quarter horse, was up for auction and on the verge of being slaughtered for meat. At her side, was Hope, her young foal born with severely bent legs.

The "meat man" made the first bid - $500 for both - but Julie Macmillan from J&M Acres horse rescue in Maple Ridge outbid him and took the mom and her crippled baby.

A Maple Ridge family agreed to foster the two and keep Hope, and North Vancouver resident Kriss Pless planned to adopt Lucy. There was the possibility that Hope would have to be put down, but since she was not in pain, Macmillan approached various vets till she found one who would give Hope a chance. The operations would cost thousands, and there was no guarantee of success.

Maple Ridge kindergarten kids heard about Hope's plight in the local newspaper and started fundraising to help pay for the operations.

"I had adopted Lucy, but I would go out there," Pless said. "So the children would come and visit the horses, and feed them cookies."

More fundraising was done, and after several surgeries, Hope's legs were set straight. She is now able to run like any other horse.

Meanwhile, Lucy had her own adjustments to make. Once Hope was weaned off her mother, Pless took Lucy in and brought her to the Burnaby Horsemen's Association stables, close to Burnaby Lake.

As a breeding mare, she hadn't really been handled by people before.

"She was pretty wild when I brought her here," said Pless. "She just didn't really get the captive life, because she had been out in hundreds of acres, and then brought into the city. We had to do training and say what was acceptable and what wasn't. Now, we go into parades, we chase some cows, we do all kinds of fun stuff. She adapted beautifully."

Pless takes Lucy, now 17 years old, to two North Vancouver schools twice a year to educate children about horses and horse slaughter and to fundraise for more rescues.

Lucy does English and Western riding demos, and children line up to pet her afterwards.

"(Lucy) dips her head down for each kid to touch her. She's just really sweet," Pless said. "She's somebody's throwaway, and look what she did for the kids."

Lucy seems to have a soft spot for children and is well natured when the association holds open-house events.

"This little mare, you can do everything to. She doesn't have a mean bone in her body. She just loves all the attention you can give her. She doesn't say yes or no to anybody. She just really likes people," said Pless. "She packs everybody around. She's so great that way. To think that she almost went in a can is crazy."

Hope still resides with the same family in Maple Ridge and now rides and jumps as a "perfectly healthy wonderful horse," according to Pless.

And after a decade apart, Lucy and Hope were recently reunited. Pless wasn't sure if they recognized each other.

"They had a little sniff at each other," she said.

Having a horse is a "real labour of love," according to Pless.

"This little mare is so special to me," she said. "(Horses) are just so forgiving. Look at what they let us do to them. We ride on them and constantly train them. They're just so sweet that way."

The next open house at the Burnaby Equestrian Centre is in summer, but no date has been set yet. (Check www. for updates.)

The public can visit Lucy at the open house. There will be demos, pony rides for kids and a concession stand.

For more on J&M Acres, or to see the other rescued horses up for adoption, visit

Friday, February 22, 2013

How Horses Identify Humans

Have you ever wondered how your horse recoginizes you?  ~Declan

How Horses Identify Humans

Research shows that horses recognize humans through a combination of sight and sound.

February 20, 2013  As Posted on

Woman and HorseDoes your horse come running when he hears your voice, but ignore your friends when they call to him? Does he see you from across the field and pick his head up to watch you, but keep grazing when a stranger walks through the gate?
Research published in 2012 suggests that horses, like humans, recognize their non-equine companions through a combination of senses, specifically sight and sound. Horses learn to recognize and distinguish between multiple human handlers through auditory and visual cues, which is the same way they distinguish between other horses in their herd.
“When we hear a familiar voice we form a mental picture of who spoke," explains lead researcher Dr. Leanne Proops. "We match visual and auditory cues to recognize specific individuals. Previously we showed that horses also identify other horses cross-modally. We now demonstrate how flexible this ability is by showing that horses can also recognize humans in this way, despite people looking and sounding very different [from horses.]”
Dr. Proops and her co-researcher, Dr. Karen McComb, both of the University of Sussex in the United Kingdom, observed domestic horses and their reactions to different people. The researchers played recordings of human voices, one familiar to the individual horse and one unfamiliar, while the familiar and unfamiliar human stood on either side of the hidden speaker from which the recording was played. The horses appeared more interested when the familiar voice was played, looking more quickly and for a longer duration at the familiar human upon hearing his or her voice.
In the second stage, the horses were tested to see if they would distinguish between the voices of two people who were both familiar to them. The researchers found that horses could match a human's voice with the sight of him or her, indicating that horses use a multi-modal memory, or one involving multiple senses, to recognize an individual.
To horse owners who see their horse come running upon hearing the voice of the friend who always has carrots, but turn tail and gallop away when the vaccination-wielding vet shows up, this information won't come as a surprise. However, the study provides an interesting insight for researchers uncovering the mysteries of interspecies interactions.
For more information: Cross-modal individual recognition in domestic horses (Equus caballus) extends to familiar humans , L Proops, K McComb, Proceedings of the Royal Society Biological Sciences, May 16, 2012, doi: 10.1098/rspb.2012.0626

World's Biggest Catering Company Sodexo Recalls ALL Frozen Beef Products

Sodexo, the world's biggest catering company just pulled all of their frozen beef products off the shelves after finding horse meat in one of it's products.  Birds Eye is also pulling products from their shelves.  Some of the brands and companies who are pulling their products are ones I recognize and are sold here too - I hope the same thing isn't happening in the US!  ~Declan

** For more frequent updates on the European horse meat scandal, please also visit, Children 4 Horses on Facebook where more articles and updates are also posted **

World's biggest catering company Sodexo recalls ALL frozen beef products after finding horse meat traces as expert warns we've been eating it for years

  • Sodexo removes all frozen beef products after positive test for horse DNA

  • Birds Eye today removed three beef ready meals from sale in the UK 

  • Comes after horse DNA found in Birds Eye chilli con carne sold in Belgium

  • Food safety expert says we've probably been eating horsemeat for years 

  • FSA today revealed latest tests returned 35 more positive results for horse DNA but all products have already been removed from sale 

  • Irish food company shut down after exporting horse meat to Czech Republic 

By SUZANNAH HILLS  As posted on Mail Online

    Catering company Sodexo is removing frozen beef products from 2,300 outlets with immediate effect after one of its products tested positive for horse DNA.

It comes just hours after Birds Eye announced it is recalling three beef ready meals sold in the UK and Ireland - and a top food safety expert claimed we've been eating horsemeat for years. 

Latest announcement: Michel Landel, pictured, is the CEO of catering company Sodexo which today announced it is removing all frozen beef products from 2,300 outlets
Latest announcement: Michel Landel, pictured, is the CEO of catering company Sodexo which today announced it is removing all frozen beef products from 2,300 outlets

Sodexo Prestige runs the catering at Ascot Racecourse, which hosts Royal Ascot - attended each year by the Queen
'UK's largest event caterer': Sodexo Prestige runs the catering at Ascot Racecourse, which hosts Royal Ascot - attended each year by the Queen

On its website, Sodexo lists its clients as hospitals, residential care homes, primary, secondary and independent schools, as well as higher education establishments.

The company also states it supplies catering, retail and leisure service to the British forces 'in over 80 locations across the UK, Cyprus, the Falkland Islands and the Ascension Islands'.

    A company statement today said: 'Sodexo has decided to withdraw all frozen beef products from its UK catering operations with immediate effect.

    'Sodexo has had a pro-active programme in place to ensure that there is no horse meat in its supply chain.

    'We demanded written assurances from across our supply chain that the products we purchase did not contain horse meat, and additionally implemented an internal sampling programme.


    Sodexo provides catering services for a wide range of clients, from economical meals at primary schools and hospitals, to 'bespoke banqueting' and 'corporate hospitality' at historical houses and sporting events.

    According to its website, Sodexo caters for:

    Schools - primary, secondary and higher education

    Healthcare establishments - hospitals and residential care homes
    The Armed forces - British Army, Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force

    Sporting events - The golf Open Championship, Royal Ascot and the Rugby World Cup

    Banquets - Hampden Park, the Churchill War Rooms and Newcastle United Football Club

    Sodexo has catered for Royal Ascot
    'Despite repeated guarantees from our suppliers, our sampling has identified a frozen beef product which tested positive for equine DNA.

    'This situation is totally unacceptable.'

    The catering at Ascot Racecourse, which hosts Royal Ascot - attended each year by the Queen - is run by Sodexo Prestige, according to the firm's website.

    The company won four awards in last year's National Racecourse Catering Awards for its food.

    A Sodexo spokeswoman would not confirm which of its sites had been supplied with the frozen products.

    She also declined to name the supplier of the beef products which tested positive for horse DNA and would not say if it was a British or Irish manufacturer.

    Sodexo describes itself as 'the UK's largest event caterer and provider of corporate hospitality packages'.

    But the company said it will not bring frozen beef dishes back on to its menus until all products have tested negative for horse DNA. 

    The statement continued: 'We felt the only appropriate response was to withdraw not only this product but all frozen beef products. We will only re-admit into our catering operations products that have affirmatively passed DNA testing, pursuant to laboratory test criteria.

    'We have notified the FSA of our findings and will assist fully in its investigation. We have also launched our own investigation to understand how this regrettable situation arose.

    'Food safety, traceability and quality remain the top priority for Sodexo and this is why we have taken these steps.Sodexo’s Tillery Valley Foods business which provides meals to the healthcare sector is not affected by the above.'

    Being withdrawn: Birds Eye has today announced it is removing three beef ready meals from sale in the UK and Ireland after horse DNA was found in its chilli con carne dish being sold in Belgium
    Being withdrawn: Birds Eye has today announced it is removing three beef ready meals from sale in the UK and Ireland after horse DNA was found in its chilli con carne dish being sold in Belgium

    Taken off the shelves: Birds Eye says it is withdrawing three beef ready meals - including its spaghetti bolognese - 'as a precautionary measure'
    Taken off the shelves: Birds Eye says it is withdrawing three beef ready meals - including its spaghetti bolognese - 'as a precautionary measure'

    The latest announcement comes just a few hours after Birds Eye withdrew three beef ready meals from sale in the UK and Ireland after horsemeat was discovered in one of its dishes being sold in Belgium.

    Tests discovered two per cent of horse DNA in Birds Eye's chilli con carne which is made by Belgium producer Frigilunch N.V.

    The company decided to remove its spaghetti bolognese, shepherd's pie and lasagne, which are made by the same manufacturer, from shelves 'as a precautionary measure'.

    In a statement, Birds Eye said: 'We want to reassure you from the testing we have completed that all Birds Eye beef burgers, beef pies and beef platters do not contain horse DNA

    'Regrettably, we have found one product, chilli con carne, produced for us by Frigilunch N.V. and sold in Belgium, that has tested positive for horse DNA at two per cent.

    'Whilst this is not a food safety issue, it is clearly unacceptable. In accordance with our high standards, we are immediately withdrawing this product from sale.

    'As a precautionary measure in the UK and Ireland we will withdraw all other products produced by the same supplier, namely traditional spaghetti bolognese 340g, shepherd's pie 400g and lasagne 400g.'

    'Clearly unacceptable': All the products being removed from sale - including its shepherd's pie - were supplied by manufacturer Frigilunch N.V
    'Clearly unacceptable': All the products being removed from sale - including its shepherd's pie - were supplied by manufacturer Frigilunch N.V

    Birds Eye beef lasagne has also been removed from sale in the UK and Ireland after the latest discovery
    Birds Eye beef lasagne has also been removed from sale in the UK and Ireland after the latest discovery

    Iglo Foods Group, which owns Birds Eye, said it had been carrying out checks on all of its beef products after other manufacturers reported their foods had been contaminated with horsemeat.

    The chilli con carne is the only product that they have found to contain equine DNA.

    The Birds Eye products taken off UK supermarket shelves will not be replaced until further tests have been carried out, the company said.

    Customers who purchased any of the products affected will be given a refund if they contact Birds Eye consumer services.

    Birds Eye said in the statement: 'The quality of our food is of the utmost importance to us. We know that our consumers rely on us to be certain that they are eating only what is labelled on the packaging and that they can always rely on us to act responsibly.

    'Iglo Foods Group has introduced an ongoing DNA testing programme and we have enhanced our normal quality assurance procedures. This will help us ensure that we continue to reach the standards that all our consumers expect from our products.

    'We want to apologise to consumers and reassure them that we will keep them fully informed and that we are taking action to deal with this issue.'

    Co-op chief executive Peter Marks wrote to more than a million company members to apologise for 'meat contamination'
    Co-op chief executive Peter Marks wrote to more than a million company members to apologise for 'meat contamination'

    Earlier today, Irish company B&F Meats was forced to shut a processing plant in in Carrick-on-Suir, Co Tipperary, after inspectors found it was exporting horse meat to the Czech Republic.

    The a small-scale deboning factory was exporting meat under a label which the Czech language which translated as beef, but was found to have been horse, through a trader based in the UK.

    Simon Coveney, Agriculture Minister, said all operations at the plant have been suspended.

    'I am seriously concerned about this development and the gardai have been fully appraised of this development and are working closely with my department. The issue here is one of mislabelling and that will be the focus of the investigation,' he said.

    Officers from the Department of Agriculture's special investigations unit have been carrying out searches at the factory this afternoon.

    Meanwhile, a former food safety lecturer at Salford University, Eric Smith, says he is not surprised by the horsemeat scandal  it is 'highly likely' that unscrupulous suppliers have been duping retailers into selling horse meat ready meals for 'quite some time'.

    Mr Smith, head of food safety at risk management firm Red24, said: 'It seems highly likely this has been going on for some time.

    'I would not want to be so bold as to say decades but certainly we could be looking at years.

    'But this only came to light because of a random test in Ireland, otherwise we would all be none the wiser.

    'The price of these products mean suppliers, manufactures and retailers are under a lot of pressure to provide low economy products. It is no surprise then that unscrupulous suppliers, looking to undercut rivals have resorted to illegal practices.

    'The supply chain management must be more rigorous. That means more government legislation, more regular and extensive audits and greater vetting procedures for suppliers.'

    A 'no horsemeat' sign at Bates Butchers in Market Harborough, central England, as more beef products are removed from UK supermarkets in the ongoing horsemeat scandal
    A 'no horsemeat' sign at Bates Butchers in Market Harborough, central England, as more beef products are removed from UK supermarkets in the ongoing horsemeat scandal

    Moo: A commuter carrying a beef burger bag looks at an image by graphic artist Patrick Thomas in Leicester Square tube station
    Moo: A commuter carrying a beef burger bag looks at an image by graphic artist Patrick Thomas in Leicester Square tube station

    His comments come as the Food Safety Agency announced more positive results for horsemeat in Britain's food chain. 

    Out of 3634 samples from products being sold in the UK, 35 contained more than one per cent horsemeat, but the FSA all the positive samples were in products that have already been withdrawn from sale.

    Results of the industry tests on 2,501 beef products collated by the FSA last week revealed 29 positive results, relating to Aldi's special frozen beef lasagne and special frozen spaghetti bolognese, Co-op frozen quarter-pounder burgers, Findus beef lasagne, Rangeland's catering burger products, and Tesco value frozen burgers and value spaghetti bolognese.

    Peter Marks, chief executive of the Co-op, wrote to more than a million of the company’s members today to apologise for 'meat contamination' in its products.

    Mr Marks wrote: 'I believe that, as a result of this food scandal, we have let you down. The discovery of meat contamination in two of our own-brand products has caused you to question the trust that you can place in us as a food retailer.

    'I strongly believe that all food retailers must accept ultimate accountability for the products we sell to our customers. We cannot blame the Government or the regulators, or even our suppliers. At the end of the day, the buck stops here.'

    'Going on for years': Former food safety lecturer Eric Smith said it is 'highly likely' that horsemeat has been in the food chain for 'some time'
    'Going on for years': Former food safety lecturer Eric Smith said it is 'highly likely' that horsemeat has been in the food chain for 'some time'

    Pallets of food products suspected of containing horsemeat - including ready-made lasagne - have been sealed off and marked as 'off-limits' in a refrigerated warehouse in Neuss, western Germany
    Pallets of food products suspected of containing horsemeat - including ready-made lasagne - have been sealed off and marked as 'off-limits' in a refrigerated warehouse in Neuss, western Germany

    He also told members that the first 76 products of 102 own-brand products sent for testing were negative for horse meat contamination, with further results expected later.

    Pub and hotel group Whitbread has also pulled lasagne and burgers from its menus after admitting horse DNA had been found in its food.

    And a restaurant called The Hungry Horse in Kinmel Bay, north east Wales, also announced it is removing chilli con carne from its menu after its supplier discovered horse DNA in a product it makes for another company.

    The pub emphasised that the mince used in its meals was tested and confirmed as 100 per cent meat but decided to remove the product as a 'precautionary measure'.

    Horse meat has been discovered in school dinners, with cottage pies testing positive for horse DNA sent to 47 Lancashire schools before being withdrawn.

    Meanwhile, all Scottish schools have been told not to serve frozen beef burgers after one was found to contain traces of horse DNA.

    Local authorities were advised to 'place a hold' on the use of the products following the discovery in a burger at a North Lanarkshire school kitchen.

    The measure also applies to council leisure facilities and some social care establishments.

    Scotland's Rural Affairs Secretary, Richard Lochhead, said it was 'really unacceptable that any school child in Scotland should be eating a burger which has got horse meat in it'.


    January 15, 2013: News breaks that horsemeat has been found in beef burgers being sold in UK and Irish supermarkets.

    The Republic of Ireland’s food safety authority (FSAI) reveals the contaminated products came from two processing plants in Ireland, Liffey Meats and Silvercrest Foods, and the Dalepak Hambleton plant in Yorkshire.

    The burgers had been on sale in the UK at Tesco and Iceland stores. Both companies begin removing all implicated products from their shelves.


    January 16: Three more supermarkets - Asda, the Co-op and Sainsbury’s - start removing frozen beefburger products from their stores as a ‘precautionary measure’. 

    Tesco discovers that 29 per cent of the ‘beef’ content of one of its Everyday Value beefburgers was actually horse meat.

    Burger King, which also uses supplier ABP/Silvercrest, said it has received assurances from the manufacturer that none of its products have been affected by horsemeat contamination.

    Government and the Food Standards Agency announces a UK wide investigation into the authenticity of burgers and other processed meat products.

    January 17: It emerges that Government scientists in Ireland first found horse DNA in late November but did not reveal their findings until January 11 as they wanted to carry out further tests.

    Burger King continues to assure customers its products were not affected.

    Beef burgers
    January 18: More than ten million burgers have now been removed from sale, including more than 100,000 made at the Yorkshire factory of Dalepak.

    The firm at the centre of the horse meat scandal - Irish company ABP - announces a temporary closure at its Silvercrest processing plant in Co Monaghan after new tests confirmed the contamination was rife.

    Hotel chain Premier Inn removes beef burgers supplied by the company from its restaurants.

    January 21: Silvercrest processing plant in Ireland confirms that a protein powder - used as a filler to help bulk out the burgers - which was imported from the Netherlands caused the contamination.

    January 23: Burger King announces it is switching its burger supplier and warns customers that some products might be in short supply.

    January 24: Burger King admits it removed thousands of burgers produced by ABP/Silvercrest from its restaurants.

    January 25: Tesco apologises after one its stores continued to sell a line of burgers that should have been withdrawn in the wake of the horse meat scandal.

    Staff at the store in Cowley, Oxfordshire, ignored warnings stating ‘product has been withdrawn from sale’ when scanning beefburgers at the checkouts and allowed the customers to purchase them anyway.

    January 27: Revealed that the horsemeat found in beef burgers manufactured for British supermarkets was imported from Poland.

    January 30: FSA reveals the mixture of beef and horse offcuts found in contaminated burgers sold in supermarkets could have been used for a year.

    Emerges that the contaminated meat was in the form of blocks of frozen product from a Polish supplier which had been used for a year.

    Co-op chief executive Peter Marks wrote to more than a million company members to apologise for 'meat contamination'

    January 31: Emerges that Asda and Co-op have also been selling burgers contaminated with horsemeat.

    Four out of 17 burgers tested by the Co-op showed up positive for equine DNA, while one was as much as 17.7per cent horse meat.

    Similarly, four frozen burgers made for Asda were positive for trace levels of horse DNA.

    February 1: Burger King admits to selling burgers contaminated with horsemeat.

    February 4: FSA under pressure to begin testing a wider range of beef products.

    February 6: Asda removes four own-label brands of frozen burgers from sale following the discovery of beef contaminated with horse meat at a manufacturer in Northern Ireland.

    The decision followed revelations that a consignment of beef containing high levels of horse meat had been found at a cold store operated by Freeza Meats of Newry.

    Flexi Foods, based in Hull, is also named as the key source of consignments of tonnes of beef that illegally included horse meat.

    Large blocks of what were supposed to be beef off-cuts were imported by Flexi Foods from Poland and then sold on to food manufacturers in the UK and Ireland.

    Burger King

    February 7: Revealed that packs of Findus frozen lasagne meals being sold around the UK contained up to 100 per cent horse meat.

    The lasagne packs were manufactured by French company, Comigel, at a plant in Metz, which produces food for supermarkets in Britain and Europe.

    Comigel makes a range of beef products for Tesco and Aldi. Both stores begin removing those products as a ‘precautionary measure’.

    February 12: Tesco reveals its Everyday value spaghetti bolognese contained up to 100 per cent horsemeat. 

    February 15: Pub giant Whitebread - which owns Beefeater, Brewers Fayre, Table Table, Taybarns and Premier Inn - confirms it has found horsemeat in its products. 

    It is also revealed schools and hospitals have been serving beef contaminated with horsemeat.

    February 17: Waitrose chief executive Mark Price warns that customers who buy cheap, value food are most at risk from contaminated meat.

    February 18: Iceland boss Malcolm walker admits he wouldn't eat cheap own-brand food products because they don't 'contain much meat'.  

    February 19: Nestle - the world's biggest food company - announces it is removing beef ready meals from sale in Italy and Spain after its own tests found more than one per cent horsemeat DNA in its beef ravioli and tortellini.

    February 20: Revealed that a fifth of British shoppers are now buying less meat because of the horsemeat scandal. 

    February 21: Emerges that meat from British horses has been passed off as beefburgers served in schools and fast food outlets across the country.

    The products were made by the award-winning Burger Manufacturing Company(BMC), in Builth Wells, Wales, which purchased meat from Farmbox Meats.

    February 22: Birds Eye removes three beef ready meals from sale in the UK and Ireland after one of its products being sold in Belgium tested positive for horse DNA.