The CFIA Hedges its Bets on Our Health (Revised)

You have to wonder what the CFIA did before now.

 

UPDATE: In answer to that question, Roxanne (whose comment appears below) supplied the answer. Her remarks are laden with useful information which puts this post in a new light…so I have inserted her comment here. And pls read her comments below as well. (In fact, I may completely rewrite this post at a later date.)

Roxanne:

The CFIA is only 10 years old. Canada Border Services is only 8 years old. Prior to that there were several different agencies responsible for several different things at the border. Canada had international agreements with the United States where the U.S. was supposed to inspect loads of slaughter horses BEFORE they crossed the border and then because of both our laws, mutual agreements, and the risk of spreading disease, these loads were to remain sealed until they reached their destination.Obviously, we know that wasn’t a good policy, but it was like that for 50 or so years. Regulations, especially ones made in conjunction with other countries can’t just be changed overnight. So while everyone was raising h+%#, without knowing WHY things were the way they were, and the steps that needed to be taken to change laws, others were quietly going about their business and changing the regulations, And don’t forget you need staff to do all this and that only certain crossings could be designated because there are only facilities to unload horses at certain crossings. They do not inspect horses for drug residue ante-mortem. It is done post mortem.

 

[What follows is my original post from November 2011.]

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has just launched a new policy which states that, as of January 1, 2012, all feeder and slaughter-bound horses entering Canada from the US will be permitted only at newly designated ports of entry; and, those horse-bearing transports may only cross during CFIA’s scheduled hours of operation.  So does that mean that, before now, Canada accepted horses bound for slaughter, without inspections by the CFIA, even though we knew that meat rendered from those horses contains substances toxic for human consumption?  At what point did the CFIA verify these horses’ health to ensure that tainted meat was neither being eaten here in Quebec nor exported abroad to countries like France, Belgium, and Japan?  Did they just leave the meat inspections to each abattoir’s discretion?

Another telling point in the CFIA’s own press release is this:

“Feeder horse shipments require customs clearance from the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and may be referred to the CFIA for inspection.  All shipments must be presented during CFIA hours of operation in order to allow for inspection if required.”

What nonsense is this?  Just because CFIA inspectors are present apparently does not also mean that the shipments will be inspected.  That seems to be up to the CBSA, so does it really matter if CFIA inspectors are present if they won’t always and in every case be asked to inspect slaughter-bound horse shipments?  Am I missing something here?  The very first sentence in the CFIA’s release states:  “The…(CFIA)…is implementing new measures to verify that horses are being humanely transported in accordance with the Health of Animals Regulations.”  What is the point of new measures which are not in effect at any time, at all times, every single time a horse-bearing shipment crosses our border?  And, as for “humanely transported”–don’t get me started (in fact, just go read my dozens and dozens of prior posts on this subject).

Sonja Meadows of Animals-Angels USA just sent out an alert which provides the most credible reason the CFIA conjured up this lame-duck policy, which has no more effect than plugging a hole in the Hoover Dam with chewing gum.  The European Union (EU) finds Canada’s human health and humane horse transport policies completely inadequate.  Now, I don’t want this blog post to degenerate into an ad hominem attack on any one person or agency, so just let me say:  “Ohh…Canada.”  I refer to the complete report below but I know Sonja won’t mind my quoting from her email alert here:

“[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….Calling kill buyers’ sworn statements ‘affidavits’, the report admits, ‘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.”

I just don’t know what more it will take for Canada to stop importing horses for slaughter, to stop selling tainted meat abroad, much less to stop horse slaughter on its own soil altogether.  As a sovereign nation, Canada should not have to be told and chastised repeatedly by the European Union that what it is doing is wrong–wrong in so many ways I’ve lost count.  We are still one of the most solvent countries in the world:  do we really need the income that badly?  do we really need to tarnish our global reputation even more than the seal slaughter has?  do we really have to show the world that, like our two military planes, our own food agency is also absurdly undermanned?  do we really need to alienate horse-lovers all over the world by being known as the “horse slaughter capital”?  It’s not rocket science.  It’s just plain commonsense.


5 Comments

  1. SAM
    Nov 15, 2011

    Love your last paragraph! What–will–it–take for Canada,s Gouverments to wake up? 8 ports have been listed and whats that going to bring? The EU sure ain,t there to witness what goes on. All in all, after violations and unsatisfactory, ect. WHY does EU continue to buy or eat this meat from canada,s slaughter-houses? Go get your own. Like George Da Pont of CFIA stated in my reply, this is a private buisness. What private buisness? Its O.K to tourture Horses? This is pure halocaust, if you ask me. What don,t they understand between black and white!? Europeans need to wake up, ect! before its to late! TKS for all you do, Cynthia. Great site and tks for Post-Cards, dear. Super! Chow 4 now. Bless

    • Cynthia
      Nov 15, 2011

      I hear you, girlfriend! What WILL it take for our government to wake up?? If Mr. Da Pont thinks any business is private in this country, he must be thinking of cocaine smuggling or prostitution; I can’t think of any business which is not highly regulated in this country. Sheesh. Thanks for writing, Sandra…glad you liked the postcards. Ciao for now, bella. Cynthia

  2. Roxanne
    Mar 8, 2012

    The CFIA is only 10 years old. Canada Border Services in only 8 years old. Prior to that there were several different agencies responsible for several different things at the border. Canada had international agreements with the United States where the U.S. was supposed to inspect loads of slaughter horses BEFORE they crossed the border and then because of both our laws, mutual agreements, and the risk of spreading disease, these loads were to remain sealed until they reached their destination.

    Obviously, we know that wasn’t a good policy, but it was like that for 50 or so years. Regulations, especially ones made in conjunction with other countries can’t just be changed overnight. So while everyone was raising h+%#, without knowing WHY things were the way they were, and the steps that needed to be taken to change laws, others were quietly going about their business and changing the regulations, And don’t forget you need staff to do all this and that only certain crossings could be designated because there are only facilities to unload horses at certain crossings

    They do not inspect horses for drug residue ante-mortem. It is done post mortem.

    • Cynthia
      Mar 8, 2012

      Roxanne also sent me this comment by email:
      In the past, the United States vets were supposed to inspect the horses before the horses crossed the border. Then the loads were supposed to be sealed until they reached their destination. There are about 120 border crossings but there are not places at every border crossing to unload horses for inspection. CBSA is in charge of border crossings as well so there are different agencies where staff are not always animal knowledgeable

      We know all this didn’t work and we had to make it more difficult for them to come in and to try to have more humane transport.. So now Canada has made some changes. But there will be a backlash -there always is. The more difficult we make it for them to come in, the more attractive it will be for slaughterhouses to re-open on the U.S. side of the border.

      I don’t think it is so lame-duck. How can Canadian authorities be blamed for what American authorities don’t do, for what American truckers do? CFIA has charged American truckers for violations on what they have found when horses arrived at slaughterhouses here and the Canadian Agricultural Review Tribunal gave out a $500 fine, not a huge deterrent.

      Why isn’t somebody complaining about what the U.S. authorities don’t do on their side of the border? Why is everything the fault of Canada not policing Americans?

      [And this is my reply:] I did mention in one of my Primers that a USDA official stated categorically that “it was Canada’s responsibility” to ensure food safety which, as I pointed out, makes it all the harder for Canada to meet EU and EC requirements–especially because US authorities have turned a deaf ear to repeated attempts by the CFIA to resolve the problem of receiving drug-laden US horses.
      You’re right, Roxanne, but it’s also true that Canada had the choice to stop accepting those horses for slaughter–something the horsemeat industry would probably never permit. (This is such a useful exchange that I am going to transfer this to a blog post).

      • Cynthia
        Mar 8, 2012

        Okay, my last comment about refusing drug-laden US horses may seem disingenuous since the almighty buck is always in our face. It remains true, however, that once anything crosses our border, our food agency should and must be responsible for it. Canada has many fewer resources, including government resources (including manpower), than the US, but once it becomes obvious that our resources are insufficient to ensure the safety of anything that crosses into our country, then we, not the exporter, become responsible for the solution.

        And even this doesn’t cover the complexity of horse slaughter in Canada…because many of these horses are tagged for feedlots, not abattoirs (even though they are ultimately slaughtered, tags notwithstanding). Somewhere in this blog, I do say that the CFIA doesn’t have the manpower to follow horse transports to their final destinations, whether feedlot or abattoir. In fact, as far as I know, only Animals-Angels USA has done that (repeatedly), and an investigative journalist team from news station WTHR-13 Indiana (also somewhere on this blog). You mention the fact that testing is done post-mortem but again, up to very recently, testing was reported at 0.18 per cent over a five-year-period; then there’s the question of whether urine-based tests can detect drug residues in the blood and muscle tissue (which is why the CFIA bans ANY amount of horse-specific drugs to begin with). Withdrawal periods which are not withdrawal periods and, finally, the absurdity of permitting 22-calibre rifles to be used on a flight animal while CFIA inspectors are not in the stun/kill area (thanks to their own Union regulations).

        I know I’ve rambled away from the topic. I’ve seen comments from Americans stating that Canada is an immoral country for slaughtering their horses–some really rude and crude comments. I’ve also read comments from Canadians expressing their shame for their own country’s actions. This seems futile to me because it comes down to a shouting match: “Stop killing our Horses! versus “Then Stop sending them here!” We have to get off the merry-go-round because it’s only by working together beyond national borders that we can stop the horror.

        Don’t stop commenting, Roxanne; everything you add to this conversation is an eye-opening insight.

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