Success Party for the Animals: MEPs want to stop importing Argen­tinian horse meat

1 December 2020

MEPs from all EU groups in the European Parliament called on the European Commission last week at the initiative of the Party for the Animals to immediately stop the import of Argentinian horse meat. Meat from stolen and non-earmarked horses appears to end up in the food chain via Argentinian slaughterhouses on a large scale. There is also gross animal abuse and troublesome hygienic conditions, according to a new undercover investigation by the Animal Welfare Foundation and Tierschutzbund Zürich.

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MEP Anja Hazekamp of the Party for the Animals discussing the Argentinian horse trade.

"It is irresponsible that we accept horse meat from stolen and untraceable animals, which are also grossly maltreated", says Anja Hazekamp (MEP of the Dutch Party for the Animals). She initiated the call, which was signed by fifty MEPs. "The lack of hygiene and the neglect of sick and injured horses pose risks to food safety and are a potential source of new outbreaks of animal diseases and zoonoses. In addition, horses are stolen on a structural basis, even from private owners and shelters, after which the animals are taken with false papers and sold to slaughterhouses. Europe should not participate in this organized crime."

Europe imports about 10 million kilos of horse meat annually from Argentina, the largest exporter of horse meat worldwide. Most of it, about 4 million kilos per year, goes to the Netherlands. Other importers are France, Belgium, Italy and Germany, Russia, and Japan. Horse meat is often used in products such as bitterballen, meat sticks, goulash, and other ready-made products that contain meat. "Horse meat is actually hidden in a lot of snacks. Consumers often don't even know that the products they buy in the supermarket or cafeteria are filled with horse meat", says Hazekamp.

MEPs point out that Europe stopped imports of Mexican horse meat in 2014 after similar findings. The European Commission does not act consistently and must also stop the import of Argentinian horse meat, as there are similar circumstances, the MEPs state in written questions to the European Commission. Official research commissioned by the European Commission in Argentina at the end of 2018 confirms that there are no guarantees for the traceability and food safety of Argentinian horse meat.

Blood farms
The Party for the Animals has already raised the alarm about the South American trade in horses. Not only the production of horse meat, but also the tapping of blood in pregnant horses to obtain the fertility hormone PMSG is 'big business' in Argentina and Uruguay, among others. This hormone is used in the Dutch and German livestock industry, among others, to make breeding animals more fertile.

Major abuses have also been found on these so-called blood farms. A proposal by the Party for the Animals to ban PMSG in Europe was previously adopted by a majority in the European Parliament. But the ban can only take effect if a majority of the EU countries and the European Commission agree to it. "We will not give up on this point either until our goal has been achieved", said Anja Hazekamp.