As many of you are aware, in 2014 we released investigative footage with our partners at TSB|AWF showing the horrible treatment of horses during auction sales, transport and slaughter in Canada, USA, Mexico and several South American countries (see the Tros Radar program HERE : http://radar.avrotros.nl/uitzendingen/gemist/24-03-2014/).
As a consequence, many food companies and supermarkets in The Netherlands decided to stop importing horse meat from these countries and others decided to stop selling horse meat period. For those that agreed to stop using imported horse meat, it was still important for us to know that their future EU- suppliers were respecting the EU legislation and doing everything possible to ensure that suffering and stress was being reduced as much as possible. For this reason, on behalf of a food company, we inspected a number of horse slaughterhouses in Europe. Several failed immediately, but one in Poland showed that they were serious about welfare and were open to show us everything. Nevertheless, we had a serious concern about the restraint box they were using, which was much too short for the large draft horses that were also slaughtered here. The back door of the restraint box was coming down on the back ends of these large horses, causing them to collapse and get their head squeezed in the front corner of the box, and making it difficult for the man responsible for stunning the horses to aim properly. The horses in this state were of course also extremely frightened. As well, the partitions used in the raceway were large steel rods, causing unnecessary noise and startling the horses.
The good news is that, as a result of our audit and discussions with the director, they have now modified the restraint box so that there are two back doors. one for smaller horses and one, now 25 cm longer, for the large draft horses. They have also coated everything in a material to reduce noise. And the partitions in the raceway have been covered with a material to absorb noise, no longer startling the horses waiting in line. We will soon be returning to this plant to see these changes in real life, and make sure they are as effective as they sound. Together with the food company and slaughterhouse, we will also work on ensuring that the quality of the home where the horses come from, is of adequate standards, so that the life-quality of the horse is under some welfare-control.