Australia | New South Wales | Horsemeat imports: Interview with informant Margaret
In a small town in New South Wales, we meet Margaret, who has been investigating about the slaughter horse trade for a long time. She explains our team members that the current system of traceability for slaughter horses in Australia is unreliable, because it relies exclusively on the honesty of the owners and kill buyers. Margaret has previously been told by a kill buyer that horses get swapped all the time and they do not even know which horse matches up to which vendor declaration.
Moreover, Margaret has observed the procedure when horses arrive at the Echuca horse auction. A staff member fills in the vendor declaration on behalf of the vendors. A couple of questions are asked, and then the vendor is asked to sign the form. This is against Australian rules. They require that the declaration must be completed by the horse owner/vendor. When Margaret asked vendors if they knew what this form was for, they said no. The horse owners are not even made aware that this form is a death sentence and offers the possibility of their horse being slaughtered for human consumption.
Margaret sees huge food safety issues with horsemeat produced in Australia. The horses that are slaughtered for human consumption have not been bred for meat, and therefore have been given numerous drugs, many of which say “not to be used in horses intended for human consumption”. Margaret tells us that Australian horses are full of drugs and EU consumers are putting their own health at risk if they are consuming this meat.