Blog: Katy AskewHorse meat debate should focus on underlying issues

Katy Askew | 21 January 2013

Horse meat has dominated the headlines following the revelation that some value range beefburgers sold through supermarkets in the UK and Ireland contained the product. It was interesting then to see that horses were in the FSA's headlights for a different reason, with news today (21 January) that the agency has revoked the license of High Peak Meat Exports.

High Peak Meat exports is a wholesaler of meat and meat products - and I might add totally unlinked to the horse meat in beef burger scandal. The company's license was withdrawn after an animal charity posted a video depicting animal abuse on YouTube.

Evidence of abuse in the footage includes "excessive use of a stick on a horse", hitting a horse with a rope and having more than one horse in the so-called stun box at the same time, said FSA.

This kind of incident is always saddening. But it also highlights an interesting aspect of the horse meat debate: as a society we are apparently happy to slaughter horses and process their meat (for animal food or export). Where we draw the line is eating the meat ourselves.

Perhaps the core debate should focus more on the fact the meat was not labelled, an issue that has the potential to undermine the trust we place in the supply chain.

Meanwhile, the British Horse Society suggests that attention should centre on how horse meat is produced in the UK. Many UK consumers are hardly aware that British abattoirs slaughter horses. That the trade is - to an extent - under the radar arguably leads to questionable practices.

"We as a nation must recognise the origin of much of the horse meat produced in our country. Rather than coming from animals ethically raised specifically for the purpose, it tends to come from horses that are surplus to requirements; a direct result of Britain's equine overpopulation problem," the equine charity said.



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