26 May 2022
Attn: Nathalie Chaze
European Commission Director General for Health and Food Safety
By email: [email protected]
EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety
A further request for the immediate suspension of horsemeat products from Australia
Dear Nathalie Chaze,
Thank you for your letter dated 1st March 2022 on the above-mentioned subject. We would like to share with you new evidence which demonstrates the disregard of the Australian horse traders with EU rules regarding horse traceability and the safety of Australian meat for consumers.
We have statutory declarations from witnesses who have seen, first-hand, the fraudulent activities of the horse traders with regard to Horse Vendor Declarations (HVDs). By law, HVDs are to be completed and signed by the vendors the horse traders buy from. This has been proven to not always happen. These HVD numbers are then listed on the HVDs that the horse traders complete, and they accompany the horses to the Meramist abattoir. This is a system that does not work.
The statutory declarations provide proof that fraudulent HVDs are common. They are annexed to this letter in full detail but, in brief, relate to the following:
- Statutory declaration from witness 1 who personally witnessed horses known to have drugs in their system, and horses not fit for transport, being taken to, and accepted by, Meramist abattoir. The witness was employed by xxxxxxxx (name redacted) at the time, a sub vendor for Peter Klan – both horse traders who provide horses to Meramist. She witnessed HVDs being completed by people other than the vendor of the horses. She heard the horse trader say that the On Plant Vet at Meramist turns a blind eye to many of the unfit horses sent to Meramist. What she witnessed is proof that EU traceability requirements are not met.
- Statutory declaration from witness 2 who attended the Echuca horse sale on 26th April 2019 and witnessed sale staff completing the HVDs rather than the vendor of the horses. This is a breach of EU traceability requirements.
- Statutory declaration from witness 3 who attended the Camden horse sale on 4th December 2019 and witnessed two mares being bought and loaded by xxxxxx (name redacted), a horse trader and supplier to Meramist. A further statutory declaration from witness 2 regarding the same sale and same mares. The sale auctioneer stated to the witness that no HVDs were handed out that day. That being the case, it means they were completed fraudulently by, or on behalf of, the horse trader. This is also a breach of EU traceability requirements.
|Name||Where||Date||Issue||Breach of EU Traceability|
|Witness 1||Peter Klan’s sub vendor||2020, 2021||Horses delivered to Meramist with drugs in system Fraudulent HVDs||Yes|
|Witness 3||Camden Horse Sale||4.12.19||xxxxxxx (name redacted) bought horses with no HVD|
|Witness 2||Phone contact||Dec 2019||Horses delivered to Meramist||Yes|
|Witness 2||Echuca Horse sale||26.4.19||Staff not vendor filling out HVD||yes|
Further to the statutory declarations, we have evidence that errors regarding the identity of horses can and do happen. An investigation by Biosecurity Queensland into an incident on 16th April 2019, did not make mention of an inaccuracy on the HVD the horse trader completed, even though it concerned one of the horses involved in the incident. The description of the horse on the HVD did not match the horse with that tag number. This is further proof that the HVDs should not and cannot be relied upon. The details of this incident are also annexed.
Through Right to Information we have received reports that involve horrific animal welfare breaches that resulted in the suffering, or even death, of numerous horses during long haul transport. Many of these horses were not fit to be transported and suffered for extended periods of time. Some involved horses that were very aged and a horse who was blind. These incidents break Australian law.
In your letter dated 1st March, you indicate that due to the low number of residues-related RASFF notifications for horsemeat from Australia, there is no real food safety risk for consumers. In this context, we would be interested to know how many horsemeat samples were tested at EU border inspection posts in the last three years (2019-21) from Australia, and how many of these samples showed positive results of drug residues.
In our opinion, the potential food safety risk appears to be considerable, especially considering more than 50 % of the slaughtered horses come from the racing industry, and where there is no reliable system of traceability in place.
Based on this new and also previously supplied evidence relating to food safety and horse welfare breaches to EU requirements, we urgently ask for an immediate suspension of all horse meat products from Australia.
We appreciate the time taken to read the annexed documents and await your reply.
Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses
Previous letters sent to the EU regarding breaches to their Australian horse meat import requirements available here and here.
To sign the petition calling on a suspension of horse meat imports from third countries to the EU, click here.
Gabriele Connor says
This is an animal abuse that has to stop!