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).




  1. Roxanne
    Apr 7, 2012

    Read carefully Cynthia. what he said is that horsemeat for interprovincial sales or international export must be federally inspected. There is no federal inspection required for horsemeat sold within the province of origin.

    And you are quite right. With the rescinding of Section 33, the segregation requirement is removed.

    • Cynthia
      Apr 7, 2012

      Thank you, Roxanne. I do love it when people speak on point. I had the same problem with the phrasing “removal of the de-funding language” which seemed to me to be a double negative…it took me a while to wrap my mind around it.

  2. Roxanne
    Apr 7, 2012

    Just to add again, Canada’s Food and Drug Regulations state:
    B.14.016. No person shall sell horse-meat or horse-meat by-product, or any food containing horse-meat or horse-meat by-product unless

    (a) it is labelled as such when offered or exposed for sale; and

    (b) when in package form, the principal display panel of the label carries a declaration of the presence of horse-meat or of horse-meat by-product in type at least as legible and conspicuous as any other type upon such principal display panel.

    But even with regulations and segregation, that doesn’t seem sufficient because for an example, in July 2002, Jay’s Food Market of Calgary (Ca-Na foods) was prosecuted and found guilty of selling horsemeat labelled as beef. Apparently they had been doing this for at least SEVEN YEARS, as an employee of Bouvry’s Ft. McLeod slaughterhouse testified that they had been selling Jay’s Market boxes of horsemeat since 1993.

    • Cynthia
      Apr 7, 2012

      Excellent information! One of the comments in the Montreal Gazette article, which I didn’t mention, was a caution from the head of PSAC’s Agriculture Union: “…it could go off the rails…so that’s why we’re going to look closely at the guidelines and training materials that go along with it.” Also, your example reminds me of an incident I heard or read about regarding a mis-labelled horsemeat product eaten by a woman who thought it was beef. She got very ill. This was just anecdotal, so I can’t substantiate it, but if one of the “irritants” referred to as being “loosened” is labelling, it doesn’t augur well.

      • Cynthia
        Apr 8, 2012

        I’ve added to this post tonight because I realized that some readers didn’t have the time to check my reference blogposts on Section 33 so might have been confused about these upcoming CFIA changes.

  3. carter
    Feb 20, 2013

    I keep hearing about this. It’s disgusting! I’d rather eat out of the sewer.

Submit a Comment