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16 January 2013 14:15:46 |News

Horse meat scandal 'has wider implications' says charity


Recent revelations concerning horse meat in beefburgers sold in UK and Irish supermarkets have highlighted concerns about equine welfare and meat traceability according to the British Horse Society.
The charity believes that a number of serious food hygiene issues need addressing as a matter of urgency.
The 2012 Defra decision to withdraw funding from the National Equine Database, and the subsequent loss of that database, has given rise to concerns that it is possible for contaminated horsemeat to be used in food.
Horses must have a passport which contains details of the drugs that a horse is given during its lifetime. If a horse receives certain drugs, it may not be slaughtered for human consumption due to fears over the effects of these drugs on people.
However, with no central database to facilitate checks it is now possible for a horse to be issued with two passports; one in which medication is recorded and an apparently clean one to be presented at the time of slaughter ? allowing the medicated horse to be passed as fit for consumption.

The moral issues of using horses as meat producing animals have also been brought into focus.
Unlike many countries on the continent Britain has never had a culture of eating horsemeat and even the idea of it causes revulsion amongst many animal lovers.
However, there are also people who believe that if we eat cows and sheep then it is hypocrisy to consider horse meat as being off the menu.
Years of unchecked indiscriminate breeding have resulted in literally thousands of horses with little or no value and a shortage of responsible and knowledgeable owners willing to care for them. Frequently these are the animals that end up at the abattoir and the BHS believes that tackling overpopulation should be our focus rather than debating the issue of consuming horsemeat.
The contaminated products had been stocked by a number of supermarket chains including Tesco.
The retailer said it was working "to ensure it does not happen again".
The British Horse Society said "once an animal has died there is nothing more that can be done for them."
"Furthermore, there is the issue of what to do with a horse?s carcass given their size and the fact that it is, in most circumstances, both illegal and impractical to bury them. Equine cremation services do exist but for many people are prohibitively expensive, leaving sending their horse for meat as the only practical option."

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