|European Commission launches investigation in Mexico - Belgium grocery stores react to the pressure from GAIA release|
|Official inquiries at the Jerez horse slaughter plant in Mexico have been announced by the EU. After meeting with Animals' Angels in November of last year, EU officials responded to our formal complaint regarding conditions and treatment of horses at slaughter plants in Mexico.
Both the Mexican Embassy and the Mexican Ministry of the Economy received courtesy copies of the recent letter announcing the investigation. EU authorities stated that AA's complaint spurred the response.
In addition, the Mexican Department of Agriculture has been contacted and required to provide information regarding the official checks put in place at the plant verifying the adequate implementation of Council Directive 93/119/EC.
EU's concerns significant
The EU response marks the first time the commission has initiated an investigation based on complaints from an animal welfare organization.
"As you know," writes the EU Animal Health and Welfare Director, "the European Commission attaches great importance to animal welfare. Animals are recognized as sentient beings by Article 13 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union..."
The director goes on to state that after analyzing the Animals' Angels report, they would consider such conditions at the Jerez plant as "not equivalent" to Article 13 requirements. Practices at the plant, such as "when unfit horses are dragged on the floor causing additional pain" [documented in Animals' Angels investigation], would be clear violations of EU requirements.
EU rules are extremely strict in regard to animal welfare. An investigation of the Jerez horse slaughter plant by EU officials signals serious concern and will likely cause major changes in plant operations. The total revocation of the plant's permit to export horse meat to EU countries is also possible.
The letter also addressed our concerns concerning drug residues in horse meat, acknowledging that the current system is inadequate. The EU is "currently in a process of strengthening the controls in the implementation of the Community legislation on residues," the Animal Health and Welfare Director writes. An inspection mission to Mexico is planned.
Not the only challenges faced by Mexican plants
These will not be the only challenges the Mexican plants and their Belgian owners are facing. In April, Belgium consumers were shocked by video reports of blatant cruelty at the plants. The reports, produced by GAIA and Animals' Angels, received national news coverage. In the aftermath, several meetings with the largest grocery chains in Belgium and the Netherlands have taken place.
Pressured by a flood of letters from outraged consumers to their corporate headquarters, Delhaize has announced they will no longer accept horse meat from Mexico & Brazil. Makro & Colruyt have issued statements that they will not buy horse meat imported from outside Europe. Several other grocery concerns are considering similar steps.
|Investigation at Texas Export Pens raises new questions|
|Recent investigations at several Texas export pens reveal similar issues. The pens, located in Eagle Pass, Socorro and Del Rio, are all operated by the Texas Department of Agriculture. Problems and concerns include:
In the evening, the horses are loaded onto Mexican trucks and transported to the horse slaughter plants in Jerez & Fresnillo, Mexico, both approx. 800 miles away from the border. Animals' Angels followed one of the trucks from the Socorro export pen to the Jerez plant - the journey took 16 hours and 30 minutes.
Despite the fact that horses will spend 38 hours or more in transit, no food is provided for the horses at the pens. This is a clear violation of the commercial transport of equines to slaughter regulations.
In the early morning
, horses arrive at the export pens from locations as far as 15 hours away. They are unloaded into barren pens, where they remain for the day.
Horses are transported across the border in open roof trailers designed for cattle.
These trailers are too low to afford adequate head room, so horses hit their heads on the metal pipes and get stuck between the pipes. The trailers offer no protection from the elements, exposing horses to intense sun, wind and rain on the 800 mile long transport to the plant.
Particularly unacceptable is the practice of returning lame, sick,blind or injured horses with the shipper.
Horses that do not pass the inspection by the Mexican veterinarian are loaded back onto the truck of the owner/shipper immediately - exposing the horse to another long distance transport and an unknown fate. No records are kept about the refusal of the horse and no charges against the shipper are filed. Horses in such condition should not be allowed to leave the export pens. Protection laws require veterinary care and possible euthanasia.
In addition, new information about the cost to taxpayers to run these export pens truly begs the question: Why should the American taxpayer subsidize wealthy Belgian horse slaughter companies, an industry a very significant majority of Americans oppose? Documents obtained by Animals' Angels prove that the cost of operating the pens far exceeds the modest fees collected on the horses awaiting export for slaughter.
Why would we want to subsidize wealthy foreign interests whose profits require inherently cruel and inhumane treatment, a business which thrives on overbreeding and even horse theft, and an industry that makes responsible horse owners sick at the prospect of selling a horse because it can so easily end up in the wrong hands?
|Stanley Brothers likely to face high fines|
|Since our investigation and the Department of Transportation complaint against them, the Stanley Brothers have been inspected several times. During the last inspection, a driver, not licensed to operate a commercial vehicle, was caught driving and several other violations like missing and false log books were uncovered. These violations were so severe that the truck was ordered to shut down. Fines are still pending, but expected to be several thousand dollars.
It is important that operators like the Stanley Brothers remain under scrutiny. Not only does AA's work address issues of humane handling, transport, and public safety. Our investigations fill in where law enforcement fails. And since these companies make their profits by violating existing laws, a continuing focus on their illegal activities can cost them thousands and close them down.
Thank you for the many phone calls and emails supporting our efforts regarding the Stanley Brothers. Please continue to help us keep up this important work. Your concerns put to action are making a valuable difference !
|In This Issue|
| European Commission launches investigation
New investigation at Texas export pens
Stanley Brothers expected to pay large fine
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|Animals' Angels works to improve conditions for farm animals. We closely cooperate with law enforcement and government agencies to fight animal cruelty. Our investigators are out in the field nationwide, visiting auctions, feedlots and slaughter plants. |
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