Is Horse Slaughter Now a Cottage Industry? Revised
On my earlier posts about the repealing of Section 33 of the Meat Inspection Act of 1990, Alert! Horse Apartheid, and Are you Eating Beef Laced with Horsemeat, there was a revealing comment shared by Theresa Anne Nolet, a horse advocate. This is what she wrote:
Good day Cynthia just received an email response from Dr.Brian Evans of CFIA in response to an email I had sent him. His response is dated April 5th, 2012 and here is a quote “it is not factual that horses can be slaughtered at any slaughterhouse in Canada. Any facility wishing to slaughter horses for export to other countries or for interprovincial trade of horsemeat is required to be federally registered with the CFIA. As with all meat products sold in Canada and exported to foreign markets,horsemeat must be properly segregated from meat of any other species of animal.”
Obviously Dr. Evans is unaware of the elimination of section 33 out of the regulations! Just thought you would find this of interest.
Now I’m pretty sure that I didn’t hallucinate the repealing of Section 33 that I read about in the Canada Gazette, and if I did, it must have been a long-lasting delusion because I blogged about it twice. I told Theresa Anne that I would write more shortly (meaning, I’d go check my facts and get back to her), but I didn’t think it would be this soon. In today’s The Montreal Gazette, the following article appeared on page A10, Feds take on Meat Hygiene, written by Sarah Schmidt of Postmedia News. I’ll try to get the link for you; in the meantime, here are a few quotes:
“The federal government is set to overhaul Canada’s meat inspection rules…[to help] smaller business and align Canadian regulations with American policies, without lowering food safety standards….[T]he changes are about simplifying requirements…so [that small non-federally registered]…meat-processing plants [can] become federally registered….”
Okay…so the CFIA’s current food safety standards will not be affected, right? In the article, the changes are referred to as “irritants,” ”substantive”, and focus on labelling requirements, as well as on where the horsemeat is sold (in other words, if province-wide only then all rules are “relaxed.”) “Irritants” is about as descriptive as the word “nice” is; in other words, babblespeak terms that reveal nothing about anything.
And tell me again why it is that we need to align with US food policies? Our biggest trading partner, yes, but is it possible that this is a furtive way for US pro-horse-slaughter proponents to have us provide their horsemeat–and of course since we’ll now be applying their food safety laws to our abattoirs–they would have no problem selling it either in the States or to their own horse-eating trade partners? I don’t know…sounds fishy to me. I remember that, last year, the Quebec farming industry was in a twist because labelling had become even more complex than previously, such that if you bought your apples, say, from the States and then made them into apple pie for sale here in Canada, that pie had to be labelled “Product of Canada”. That information was in La Terre de chez nous, our agricultural newspaper, so I’ll have to look up the fine details and get back to you. I don’t want to give the dark side any ideas but since their efforts to re-open abattoirs in at least four US states that I know of have been blocked so far, they may be diabolical (and desperate) enough to connive even further than they have so far. Sue Wallis and Bill desBarres of the adamantly pro-slaughter Horse Welfare Alliance of Canada are in each other’s pockets, after all.
The article quotes Bob Kingston, union president of the meat inspectors at CFIA, and a few others…and, of course, here’s the kicker:
“One industry source familiar with the CFIA’s 17 pilot projects…says his technical advisers have concerns…they are uncomfortable with the science...citing the example of allowing the butchering of wild game in the same facility.”
A cottage industry is a very small-scale operation with a limited, niche or very small market. If small-scale abattoirs which claim to sell horsemeat only province-wide (which I find hard to believe since QC sells to the Ontario gourmet market) also benefit from the relaxing of ”irritating” labelling laws, then I shudder to think…in other words, the potential for corruption will explode. (Read Roxanne’s comment below for a case-in-point–and that happened when the standard laws were in place.) And all this is on top of a prime new threat to consumers: that horsemeat will no longer be segregated from other food meats while at the butchering stage (which is exactly what Section 33 prevented).