The true scandal of horsemeat


The discovery of horsemeat labelled as beef in burgers and ready-made meals in the UK and parts of Europe is the scandal that keeps on giving with major supermarkets and fast food joints like Burger King now involved.

HorsesCuddleThe story has also hit headlines in New Zealand with media pondering whether the same thing could happen here. The Herald reports, “It isn’t illegal to hide horsemeat in food in New Zealand, under the generic label ‘meat’. This is a significant loophole, and means that consumers who eat pies or sausages, for example, could unknowingly be consuming horsemeat.”

It seems some of us share the same dietary taboos as the Brits and would be horrified at being duped into eating something considered unsavoury. But why the double standards ? Why is horsemeat so unpalatable compared to that from other equally hooved and intelligent animals like cows and pigs (who are, incidentally, cleverer than your dog or three-year-old child). And aren’t we missing another important point in all this? – That of the welfare of the horses? Why are so many ending up at the slaughterhouse – even in New Zealand?

Whether horsemeat is being mislabelled here or not, there’s a bigger scandal already happening – one with links to the racing industry and shrouded in secrecy.

Action of a bunch of race horses during a race head-on.Down in the depths of the South Island lies the little known ‘Clover Exports Limited’ (surely a cruel pun on ‘putting a horse out to clover’), the only horse slaughterhouse in New Zealand licensed to export horsemeat “for human consumption”. Horses, mainly rejects from the racing industry, are being killed at Clover Exports and eaten in Europe – and New Zealand. Last year The Herald told how Gore is often the destination for New Zealand racing industry thoroughbreds who don’t perform. In an industry driven by profit, when animals can no longer make money their days are numbered. They’re cruelly discarded and stacked into cattle trucks for the arduous journey to slaughter – which can often take many days. In 2011, 1962 horses were slaughtered at Clover Exports.

If we love horses so much that we find it unpalatable to eat them, what do we think about exploiting them for the racing industry and then discarding them when they’re no use anymore?

It shows again our strange relationship with animals: once they’ve served ‘their purpose’ as prized racehorses, they’re relegated to being just food. But the industry knows the truth is unpalatable to most of the public so they’ll do anything to hide the fact that racing horses will share the same sad end designed for all animals to be consumed. Pigs, chickens and cows, like horses, are all sensitive animals with their own personalities, able to experience fear, stress, pain and suffering. Yet millions of them are killed for the meat industry every year, and millions more are suffering in factory farms right now. Why is that ok and eating horsemeat is not?

If the horsemeat scandal has made us feel queasy, it might be time to challenge the old-fashioned view that animals exist solely for human use. Maybe we need to think again – to see all animals’ inherent worth, a value completely separate from their usefulness to humans. Then all we need to do is to stop eating them!

Mandy Carter, Campaign Manager


16 Comments Add yours

  1. hanger17 says:

    Reblogged this on Time for Action.

  2. The reason for all of this and much more is glaringly simple; Profit before Life, profit before everything.

    If we cannot put and end, a complete and permanent end, to the private ownership, for-profit paradigm, in which absolutely everything is up for sale, then things will only get worse.

    A weed cannot be killed by clipping its stems. The root must be extirpated.

  3. Greg Villers says:

    These beautiful animals deserve much better than this. Shame on those in the racing industry for discarding them them in this way. Any one with a horse has a responsibility to ensure it is treated with love and respect and every effort is made to find it a home that meets those requirements when they can no longer provide that.

  4. Jordan Wyatt says:

    The Invercargill Vegan Society investigated this horse slaughterhouse earlier this year.

    There’s never been a better day to go vegan 🙂

  5. pawpaws says:

    Well said Mandy. I too can’t understand why they (meat eaters) think its ok to eat pigs, sheep etc but not horses, makes no sense at all. Maybe eating meat dumbs them all down a lot!

  6. Helen Gryparis says:

    I absolutely agree with the above article . We are experiencing the biggest ethical crises on the planet. Greediness is destroying human values.

  7. susannah says:

    Are we not made up of the exact same anatomy as most animals … So are we not indeed animals ourselves .. Which makes me wonder how long before we do a complete circle and go back to eating human meat … I saw a sign on the side of the road one day and it said ” If animals were not meant for eating then why are they made up of meat” HOW THICK CAN ONE GET .. WHAT THE HECK DO THEY THINK WE ARE MADE UP OF 🙂 Look at our teeth, are they not the exact same type teeth as cows, horses, sheep ect why the heck do we insist on using our teeth to tear at meat which then takes days to digest as it rots in our guts … HONESTLY A CHILD COULD SEE THE PLAIN TRUTH IN ALL THIS WHY DONT WE JUST ADMIT WE MAY HAVE GOT IT WRONG 🙂

  8. Kelly Boyd says:

    Glad to see u are bringing this to the publics attention. This is happening all too often. I own a standardbred mare who I have had for 9years now. I paid $100 for her when she she was only 3 1/2 yrs old and was on her way to the meatworks at the end of the week. We went to manure for our garden from a local trainer and was patting her when the guy said oh that ones to slow shes off to the meatworks. So we bought her there and then. She is still listed on the hrnz website as being owned by the people that raced her. Even though for all they know she went to the meatworks. They dont publish the real fate of them so the public doesnt find out how many are being slaughted each year. The harness racing, gallopers and greyhounds all have a lot to answer for ! There are non profit organisations around the country that try and re home the ones they can get hold of but I think the industry should b resonsable for this and should have to make an effort to find homes for them and stop breeding so many. I have to say though that not all owner/trainers are bad. My Dad raced a couple of greyhounds but keep them as pets and they lived a great life, the last one was put to sleep at 13yrs of age due to a medical issue that paralised him. Not many make it to that age. He also has a tb mare who he raced and is now living out her days being pampered on thier lifestyle block. The trainers that trained her also treated their horses very well and always made sure they found homes for them all.

  9. Anna says:

    I would like to know the ratio of Throughbred to STANDARDBRED horses being sent for slaughter as most Throughbred racing people I know try very hard to rehome their retired racehorses as they see them as part of their family and spend a lot of time with them, on the other hand Harness racing horses are not prefered for riding so many more of them are sent to slaughter, Maybe we need to support more retirement farms for strnadrdbred and help with the rehoming process to make these horses more desirable as pleasurehorses , then we wouldnt need to send them away, I think also putting a shout-out to all your supporters that have land to “adopt” a racehorse after retirement and have them live out their days in peace, its not hard I have one and lots of people i know rehome retired racehorses ALL THE TIME

    1. Kelly Boyd says:

      The Standardbreds are slowly getting a better reputation as a riding horse. The North Island standardbred club has been.doing a good job getting thier name out there and I think there is one in the South Island too. There are a few rehoming places around. Unfotunatly there a still alot of toffee nosed horse people out there who think they are not meant for riding. The mentality needs to change in the horse world to get more people to want to own them. Unfortunatly alot of people own horses to compete and their horses are just a peice of equipment , and if they arent performing they will sell them on . I just ride my Standardbred for fun and she is my pet just like my dogs and cats are. Thats how horses should be viewed not as a peice of equipment to be gotton rid of when they are not needed anymore. Yes the Harness racing industry is the worst but the gallopers and the showeys/eventers etc are guilty of discarding them when they are not wanted as well. I also heard of someone who was breeding ponys and they had far to many so one day just went out and shot a big number of them and buried them in a mass grave on thier farm. There is good and bad in all parts of the horse world.

  10. Nikki Subritzky says:

    I send most of my day worrying about the slaughter and transportation of the unwanted horse in NZ. The number of horses that get picked up daily to be placed in holding paddocks while more are collected before heading to Gore is increasing and last winter we saw a huge influx of pregnant mares, some under-nourished but most just discarded race horse broodmares, either way breeders should not be breeding if they are not prepared to care for thier horses. The NZ racing industry and the likes need to put in place a suitable breeding program and place limitations on breeding studs to eliminate this happening. The wastage is getting out of control and the disrespect for the welfare of these discarded horses in transit is a lot to be desired! Last year several horses were injured while in transit after being placed in a stock truck and trailer with other animals. The Animal Welfare Act Draft is available for renewal and submissions need to be in by mid March. Please I urge you to have a read and submit any recommendations you feel we could improve in the care of Horse Welfare in NZ.

  11. K.T says:

    I live in Auckland and there was cases a few years back about people putting horses in ads for free and them being given unwittingly to somebody who was then taking them not to a new home but taken to the slaughter house in Bombays for horsemeat. I totally am opposed to people giving away horses and ponies as I believe anything labelled” free” means it has no value and is treated as such.

  12. Judy Eva. says:

    Absolutely terrible that horses are treated in this way.They are not even humanely handled while in the abbatoirs. I have seen footage that was secretly filmed in Europe and it was really sad the way they were being hit and whipped while waiting to be killed. some were beadly injured with broken legs etc and were suffering from stree and pain. I would love to seee this cruel practiicebanned for all animals.

  13. Kellye says:

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