Thursday, January 5, 2012

Open letter to CFIA re slaughter from Canadian Horse Defence Coalition

Tuesday's Horse

Dr. Brian Evans, Chief Food Safety and Veterinary Officer for Canada
Dr. Martin Appelt, Manager Meat Programs
Dr. Gord Doonan, CFIA Senior Staff Veterinarian

Dear Dr. Evans, Dr. Appelt and Dr. Doonan:

Regarding recently released video evidence of failed stunning attempts on horses at Les Viandes de la Petite-Nation Inc., the following media quote involving CFIA spokespeople has come to our attention:

“The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has seen the video but said the quality of it makes it difficult to properly assess. CFIA officials said the company has been audited and no major deviations were found.”

We are requesting a clarification on what segments of the video were difficult for the CFIA to assess. Numerous experts have now reviewed the footage that can be accessed online at All of these experts, as well as many members of the public who have commented on the footage, are in agreement that humane slaughter regulations are clearly being violated in the video. The quality of the footage is excellent and anyone viewing the video can easily see the prolonged suffering of horses in the stun box due to mis-hits and malfunctioning of the captive bolt pistol.

We would like to draw your attention to this excerpt from the Meat Inspection Act – Part III:

79. Every food animal that is slaughtered shall, before being bled,
(a) be rendered unconscious in a manner that ensures that it does not regain consciousness before death, by one of the following methods:

      (i) by delivering a blow to the head by means of a penetrating or non-penetrating mechanical device in a manner that causes immediate loss of consciousness.

We should not have to point out to you that immediate loss of consciousness is not only the requirement, but the law, when animals are being stunned. Please review the footage available online once more (, with special attention given to the unfortunate horses who received numerous stunning attempts (11 attempts on one large Belgian) before being rendered insensible. According to the Meat Inspection Act, such deviations are not lawful. This begs the question – why is the CFIA ignoring violations of the Meat Inspection Act at Les Viandes de la Petite-Nation?

In addition, why were no penalties or prosecutions levied following three previous investigations (Natural Valley Farms in Saskatchewan, Bouvry Exports in Alberta, and Viandes Richelieu in Quebec) when undercover footage clearly revealed violations in those slaughter facilities as well?

Further, we would like to receive your feedback on the prevalence of missing information and erroneous data on Equine Information Documents that were photographed and provided to us: The EID system is supposedly the mechanism that assures food safety when horses are slaughtered for human consumption. It is clear to see that opportunity for fraud exists within this system, and that it is impossible to guarantee toxin-free meat when horses have multiple owners and enter the slaughter pipeline from a myriad of directions. The following quote, in fact, appeared recently in the Toronto Star:

“(Veterinarians) do rely a lot on the records of the horses kept by the owners coming into the country and there are questions about how accurate or up to date they are,” said Gary Corbett, president of the federal union representing slaughterhouse veterinarians, The Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada. “It’s at the discretion of the owner. There’s no regulatory framework to monitor it. It’s kind of like an honour system”. (–shooting-horses-canada-s-slaughter-industry-under-fire?bn=1)

As you know, drugs such as phenylbutazone are toxic to human beings. Why, therefore, is the CFIA willing to take risks with consumer health by promoting a flawed tracking/identification system that does nothing to guarantee food safety?

Further information on phenylbutazone and horsemeat can be found in an article in the Food and Chemical Toxicology journal, “Association of phenylbutazone usage with horses bought for slaughter: A public health risk” by Dr. Nicholas Dodman, Dr. Nicolas Blondeau, and Dr. Ann Marini. ( The article provides details of a study in which eighteen thoroughbred race horses that were administered phenylbutazone on race day were sent for intended slaughter.

Your prompt attention to our concerns would be appreciated (no form letters please).


Sinikka Crosland, Executive Director
Canadian Horse Defence Coalition

150 First St., P.O. Box 21079
Orangeville, Ontario L9W 4S7
Phone/fax: (250)768-4803

Source: Canadian Horse Defence Coalition

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