Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Wednesday 28 June 2017

Calls for change to horse slaughter rules

SEEKING CHANGE: Horse trainer Ted Walsh (left) and Ted Farrell, a director of B&F Meats arriving for the Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Fisheries and Food meeting
SEEKING CHANGE: Horse trainer Ted Walsh (left) and Ted Farrell, a director of B&F Meats arriving for the Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Fisheries and Food meeting
Caitriona Murphy

Caitriona Murphy

Legendary racehorse trainer Ted Walsh has appealed for changes to be made to European slaughter rules for horses.

Under current legislation, Irish horses cannot be slaughtered for human consumption if certain medications have been administered at any stage of their lives.

However, meat from horses slaughtered outside Europe can be imported for human consumption, as long as the animal did not receive medication in the last six months prior to slaughter.

Mr Walsh and Ted Farrell from Kilkenny horse slaughter facility B&F Meats met with the Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Fisheries and Food on Thursday to appeal for a derogation for Ireland from the European rules.

Mr Farrell said he was simply looking for a levelling of the playing field on horse meat consumption rules.

"At the moment, any foal getting a passport over the age of six months has its passport stamped not fit for human consumption," he explained. "But there is no basis for this, medically or otherwise."

Although some medications such as the flu and tetanus vaccines are allowable, other medications on the prohibited list are commonly used to treat horses.

Phenylbutazone, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug more commonly known as bute, and Buscopan, a colic medication are just two of the drugs that preclude a horse from the human food chain.

The reason the meat from treated animals is not allowed is because minimum residue levels (MRLs) have not been established for the drugs.

"Under the current rules, a mare that got bute in 2000 and has that stamped on her passport cannot ever be slaughtered for human consumption," said Mr Farrell.

"You could have a horse that was treated with Buscopan as a two-year-old for colic. That horse is 16 now and the medication is well and truly gone out of his system but yet he can't be slaughtered for human consumption," added Mr Walsh.

"Sending a horse to the factory is a decent way to have the animal put down when his age and health dictate," he said.

Factory slaughter of horses is a paid alternative to knackery disposal, which can cost upwards of €150/horse.

B&F Meats are currently processing between 60 and 80 horses a week. They have paid up to €400 for well-fleshed animals.

Irish Independent