The 2013 horse meat scandal shed light on fraudulent practices on a huge scale.

More than two years on from the grim news, what has happened and what is being done to try and ensure that history does not repeat itself?

As well as the public’s horror, the issue also threw up other major questions.

There were worries this could mean bute was entering the food chain and concerns about the conditions in abattoirs in the UK, as well as whether live slaughter horses were being illegally exported from Britain.

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In January 2013, a study by the Irish Food Safety Agency found equine DNA in processed beef products.

It found that 29% of a tested Tesco’s everyday value burger was in fact horse meat.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) ordered tests on processed beef products.

The following month, it found the meat content in a Findus beef lasagne was up to 100% horse meat.

Further tests took place, identifying horse meat in other supermarket products, and the FSA said all horses must be tested for bute — and be found negative — before entering the food chain.

At the time, H&H ran a special investigation report into the scandal, which also highlighted the suffering that many slaughter horses face on their journey across Europe to the abattoir.

Since the scandal, the FSA says it has put arrangements in place to help prevent, identify and respond to incidents in future.

A spokeswoman said the agency has revised its incident management plan and this was tested earlier this year.

She added: “We continue to work with local authorities and agencies to uncover and prosecute or disrupt cases of food fraud and related criminality.”

She said they are “refreshing” the way people can confidentially report concerns to them.

In 2014 the FSA also established a food crime unit, which looks at the current and future threat to the UK from food crime.

But have things changed for Europe’s slaughter horses?

World Horse Welfare chief executive Roly Owers said they have no evidence that transport conditions have altered since the scandal.

“For this to happen the law would need to be changed and there is no sign the European Commission will do this, despite the advice from their own scientific advisors,” he said.

“However, thanks to public support, our campaign has had a huge impact on the numbers of horses suffering this dreadful trade, down from 125,000 a decade ago to around 50,000 today.”

In 2015-16 the FSA has £1.8m available to enforcement authorities for additional sampling in priority areas, including checking what type of animal meat has come from.

The food crime unit has started work on the 2015 food crime annual strategic assessment, which explores the nature and scale of the food crime threat to the UK.

Set to be finished by 2016, this will drive the unit’s wider work and ensure resources are focused on threats to the UK.

World Horse Welfare wants to see a robust, enforceable equine identification system. They also want a new European transport regulation incorporating a 12-hour journey limit, improved enforcement of the regulation across the EU and CCTV in equine abattoirs.

Mr Owers said: “We believe that tougher checks at UK abattoirs have increased the under-the-radar trade of horses and ponies of a low market value to the continent, ostensibly for riding but in reality we believe many go for slaughter.”

Almost 10,000 horses were killed for human consumption in the UK in 2012, compared to less than 5,000 in 2013.

He added “probably thousands” of horses would be spared the “needless ordeal” of being exported for slaughter if the UK enforced its own laws.

Ref: 16 July, 2015

  • crookedstick

    APHIS is charged with overseeing Transport to slaughter and monitoring “feedlots and Holding pens for horses. How much is budgeted to this? We are all seeing the horrid conditions at places like McBarrons. He has unpaid fines and he operates with impunity.
    The Horse Protection Act, which is only presented as an Anti-Soring Act; in fact, also is budgeted for Transport To Slaughter issues under Animal Plant Services under USDA.
    They are in control of Transport and Holding. Is there anyone monitoring the Holding Pens as CAFOs Or AFOs.
    The EU pulled out of Mexico based on these conditions. Is Aphis doing their job when it comes to slaughter horses.

  • savinghorses2

    Bute. It doesnr have a half life or a life of so many hours. And the studies have not been done regarding bute just American proslaughter supporters modifying data. The fact is it bonds to the blood and stats in the body l. The ONLY LEGITIMATE test fior it is conducted on the kidney which cones post mortem. Theres a wait for the tests so this slows down production especially on thousands of kidneys being tested. So they test muscle tissue which rarely is correct and mostly shows false results. They refuse the other tests. The results they show are based on one single pill dosage one time in a horses lifetime however none is done on bute paste or long term or repeated through the horses career. They want to Not find it. So they refuse correct tests. Some horses that are being worked and competed live off bute…nfz…dmso and many other products Combined and theres no way to know how the combinations will effect consumers. As well as ignoring the other medications there are Never any withdrawals completed as they falsely cover the truth.

  • vickysecho

    You can put all the regulations in place on the books and never enforce them and the horse meat mafia laughs all the way to the bank. 160,000 entirely unregulated adulterated US horses were exported for slaughter with the majority imported into the EU as originating from Canada and Mexico by Belgium Corporations. What good does it do to tighten written laws when there is NO enforcement? The US horse kill buyers don’t care what a horse has been medicated with or how terribly it suffers in route as long as it is standing when it arrives – to be paid. The US has NO requirements for adulteration of horses exported for slaughter – NONE! Horse kill buyers are allowed to fabricate foreign documents and no one can check or enforce anything. Absurd….