Primer: the Last Part (possibly)
All right…so if all of this is true, what is the CFIA doing about it? I have cousins in Europe and they’ve told me that there was a spot in the news that the EC (European Commission) put out a not-so-favourable report on Canada’s handling of food animals, especially pigs and horses: what’s the story there?
Before I answer this question, I do want to caution readers that the government’s (that is, any government’s) private password for “we can’t legally fine, admonish or shut you down, but really this is borderline below-standard” is the word, “adequate”. I’m not making this up; I did work in our nation’s capital for a short time, and, needless to say, I learned a lot. ”Adequate” saves a government agency from taking action which might give some bigshots’ or lobbyists’ heartburn, and/or might affect the economy in negative ways. This is what you might call a circumspect view, an all-things-considered, all-things-being-equal position, not unlike the notwithstanding clause in the Meech Accord, or like last year’s redundant declaration by the federal government that ‘Quebec is a nation in its own right’ (as if we didn’t know that)…but I digress.
So, in October 2011, when the FVO (Food Veterinary Office) of the EC (European Commission) issued its final report on Canada’s (which means the CFIA’s) handling and sanitary practices of animals destined for human consumption in the EU (European Union) which included horses, every single infraction was preceded by a sentence ending with: ”…was found to be adequate.” This always preceded a further statement as suggestively incriminating as:
[under Observations, page 15, FVO Report]: ”The imported horses from the US were accompanied by the signed Affidavit (EID) of the last owner, covering the medical treatment during the last six months, which in many cases was a horse dealer. Nevertheless, no official guarantee was received by the CFIA from the US authorities that this guarantee was verified and could be considered as reliable.”
Still and all, with this and other ambiguous and ambivalent observations by the FVO’s auditors, overall, the report declared the CFIA’s efforts “adequate” as if just a bit of tweaking needed doing. (The French summary of this report was even more remiss, not even noting the infractions, just declaring the CFIA’s management “adequate”. So much stuff lost in translation there, eh?)
Yes, I read the entire report which you can find here below as well as quotes from Animals Angels [taken from my prior blog "The CFIA hedges its Bets" and with gratitude to Sonja Meadows of Animals-Angels' USA]:
“[The EU inspection report of October 26, 2011] notes that: ’No statement in the US Health Certificate is required or provided as to the former use of the horses, their treatment with veterinary drugs, in particular with regard to certain substances having a hormonal or thyreostatic action or to beta-agonists.” Sonja goes on to summarize: “Bluntly labeled ‘not satisfactory’ were the ‘identification and movement of horses’, ‘controls of veterinary drugs’, and ‘residue controls and certification….”
The CFIA responded in its follow-up report: ”Response of Competent Authority of Canada (CAC) to the Recommendations in the EU Draft Audit Report Food and Veterinary Office – DG (SANCO) 2010-8522, Nov 23-Dec 06/2010″ to each charge. This is how they responded to ‘action requested’ to ensure the reliability of information received on US horses entering Canada for purposes of slaughter:
“[Annex A of the CFIA response]: Once CFIA has determined its course of action, reciprocity will be requested from the US authority for any US origin equine imported into Canada for slaughter and subsequent export of the derived meat products to European Member countries. If the US origin equine animals are not subject to equivalent Canadian requirements for slaughter horses, products from US origin equines will not be certified for export to European Member countries.”
Are you bored yet? I’m not. I can compare average warm carcass weights of rendered horse from year to year just to ensure that I know all the facts…yet the sight of roadkill upsets me. It’s late here now, so I’ll continue next post with a list of recent changes the CFIA has made to accommodate the European market’s health provisos on horsemeat. Don’t get your hopes up. They do try, but lordy, the whole thing is sisyphean.
Once we fully address this question, our final (for now) question will be (as you can see, I began with the details and worked my way to the general):
Why do we kill horses for meat, when did we start, and why, for Pete’s sake, are we slaughtering foreign (US) horses?