Situation hasn’t improved in horse slaughterhouses

The Zurich Animal Protection League says the inhumane treatment of horses bound for slaugter continues in North and South America Keystone

The Animal Protection League (APL) is urging retailers in Switzerland to act on reports of abuses in South American and Canadian slaughterhouses and stop imports of horse meat which are not in line with international standards.

This content was published on March 12, 2014 minutes and agencies

The Zurich-based group says conditions have not improved substantially in the slaughterhouses a year after the scandal came to light.

Some Swiss grocery stores stopped selling horse meat altogether following last year’s scandal, and others changed their suppliers. However, most continue to import horse from Canada and South America, with Uruguay surfacing as a new provider since last year. But the Animal Protection League says conditions in that country don’t suffice either.

“In Uruguay, there are no valid transport regulations,” York Ditfurth, president of the APL, told the Blick newspaper, referring to horses’ being transported to the slaughterhouse in makeshift carriers that can leave them badly injured. “We are calling for a complete halt to the import of horse meat from overseas.”

And in Canada, which continues to be the main supplier of horse meat to Switzerland, conditions haven’t changed since last year, according to the APL, when an investigative report on Swiss television showed footage of horses being beaten, neglected and transported for hours without food or water before being slaughtered.

Swiss supermarkets Migros, Aldi, Denner and Spar continued to import horse meat from Canada since last year, but Spar told Blick that it would remove its Canadian horse meat from the shelves “until further notice” following the latest revelations. For its part, Migros has said it’s clear the conditions of its current importer are not good enough, but that the Canadian slaughterhouse is currently building a new facility that will be ready this summer.

If conditions for animal housing, transport, slaughter and transparency are not met after that time, a Migros spokesperson said the store “would cut off its connection to Canada”.

The APL wrote in a statement that it was unrealistic to expect to be able to legally or politically influence what goes on in overseas slaughterhouses, but it is calling for Swiss stores to completely stop importing horse meat, as Volg and Lidl have done, or to get the meat from a European supplier, as is the case at Coop.

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