Australia | Caboolture, Queensland | Horsemeat imports: Meramist abattoir
It is our second investigation day at Meramist abattoir. When our team arrives at 6:45 a.m., a truck with horses is already waiting at the unloading ramp. It belongs to kill buyer Les Evans. A leather whip is used to unload the horses. We detect a sick white gelding that cannot walk normally. He should have been deemed unfit for transport according to EU and Australian animal welfare standards.
The smaller pens are crowded. The horses are stressed, and biting can be observed repeatedly. The horses that arrived yesterday still have not been provided with food or bedding, even though several horses are weak and emaciated. At Meramist horses are slaughtered for the export to Europe. Therefore, EU requirements are applicable to the treatment of these Australian horses. According to EU law, animals which have not been slaughtered within 12 hours of their arrival must be fed and be provided with bedding. This requirement is completely ignored by the operators of the Meramist abattoir. This is even more unacceptable because the horses usually do not receive any food during transport on journeys that can take up to 30 hours. Furthermore, our research shows that the supply of feed before transport is often insufficient in the assembly centres. At Meramist, we observe hungry horses searching for food on the ground or putting their head through the fence, trying to reach the grass in the adjacent paddock.
Most horses have brands that show that they are racehorses (gallopers and trotters). They are the “wastage” of the racing industry since they are no longer considered profitable.
By 12 a.m., all the horses have been moved inside the plant for slaughter. They have been kept in the slaughterhouse pens without feed or bedding and with insufficient weather protection for up to 24 hours.