A private member's bill to restrict slaughter of horses to
animals raised for human consumption has been defeated following
its second reading on May 14, 2014 in Canada's
Parliament. (Private member bills frequently do not become
law in Canada.)
Bill C-571 would have amended the Meat Inspection Act and Safe
Food for Canadians Act to prohibit the transport of horses and
other equines between provinces, as well as import and export into
and from Canada, for the purpose of slaughter for human
consumption. The bill included an exception for horses raised
for the purpose of human consumption and accompanied by detailed
medical records. Similar restrictions would also have been
created on horse meat products.
Although the slaughter of horses has received criticism in
equestrian circles and from animal welfare groups primarily for
issues of humane (or inhumane) treatment of horses during transport
and preparation for slaughter, Bill C-571's sponsor focused on
food safety issues related to horse meat. Some drugs commonly
used in treating medical issues in performance horses are
considered unsafe for human consumption in any dosage.
Parliamentarians opposing Bill C-571 argued that the horse meat
industry was important to Canada's economy and that existing
controls for meat safety were adequate, and stated that the
government was committed to verifying that all animals destined for
slaughter are treated humanely.
Rather, Equine Canada raised concerns that the bill would place
an onerous burden on the Canadian horse industry in connection with
the movement of horses between provinces in Canada. Bill C-571
would arguably have created a responsibility to declare or
establish why a horse was being moved within Canada or exported.
Equine Canada pointed out that there is presently no national
mechanism in place that would enable Canadian horse owners to
qualify or report why they are moving horses between provinces in
Equine Canada also reiterated its commitment to developing a
national equine traceability system, which would permit improved
medical record-keeping. A national equine traceability system
has officially been in development since March 2010.
In view of the food safety requirements relating to horse meat
that presently exist in the European Union and some other
jurisdictions, regulations may eventually be developed that would
enable improved monitoring of the drugs and other medical
treatments provided to horses and other equines. However, it
now appears likely that any such regulations would be developed
within the existing framework for meat inspection and food safety,
rather than through restrictions on animal movement.
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