No health records? Ship before July 31st

It isn’t an April Fool’s joke. In fact, rumors of it have been the talk of the industry all winter and in late January the Canadian Food Inspection Agency confirmed new regulations regarding the implementation of a Meat Hygiene Directive. As of July 31st, slaughter facilities will be allowed to process only those equines with complete health records dating back six months. In other words, the maintenance of health records must have begun by February 1st, for equines that are intended to be sent (or sold) for processing on or after July 31st.

The Information Bulletin from the CFIA that outlines the new requirements is available from the CFIA’s web site at:

http://www.inspection.gc.ca/english/corpaffr/newcom/newsrele.shtml where it states “ owners who wish to keep their sale options open should record all vaccines, medications given (administered or fed) to their animals and record any occurrence of illness in their animals.”

The CFIA requires that health records for equines intended for human consumption include the following:

• Identification information for the horse, including markings and photos

• Record of diagnosed illnesses

• Records of drugs or vaccines administered (or fed) that are not intended for use in food animals

• Records of drugs or vaccines administered (or fed) with known withdrawal periods

• Records of all other drugs or vaccines administered (or fed)

A list of the substances that are not intended for use in food animals can be found at in the Meat Hygiene Directive No. 2009-49 which is available from CFIA’s website at

http://www.inspection.gc.ca/english/fssa/meavia/man/direct/2009/direct49e.shtml.

Important to note: the use of Phenylbutazone (commonly known as bute), is now considered a banned substance for any equine intended for human consumption.

Equine meds which require a six-month withdrawal period include such drugs as Acepromazine, commonly known as Ace.

Perhaps even more troubling than the health records requirement is the news that this program is all intended to lead into an overall Canadian equine identification program, which is intended to encompass not only unique identification, but movement tracking and health and drug administration. Read on for the official word from the Canadian Food and Inspection Agency:

“To assist horse owners in the maintenance of health records, the CFIA has created the Equine Identification Document (EID). The EID is a paper document that can be downloaded and printed from the CFIA website.

“The CFIA announcement describes this as “the first step in the development of a comprehensive food safety and traceability program for the Canadian equine industry—for both domestic and international markets.” This is in-line with previous Agriculture and Agri-food Canada announcements committing to the development of livestock traceability programs for Canada by 2013.

“It is expected that the EID paper document will serve as a foundation stone upon which a comprehensive electronic system will be built to incorporate unique equine identification, movement tracking, and health and drug administration information necessary to satisfy food safety and bio-security requirements.

“It is expected that further information and details regarding the development and implementation of the national identification and traceability system will be announced shortly.”

If all of this smacks you in the gut the teensiest bit, if you find your thoughts drifting off to 1984, and big-brotherism, you just might not be alone . . . and plenty of you may even recall we’ve been through this before, back in 2003-04 when Equine Canada gave it’s best shot at fast-tracking an equine identification program. Alarms were raised, cries of “not another gun registry!” were made and eventually, it all went away, back into the dark hole from whence it came. Or, so we thought.

Just as intriguing . . . on the heels of this Canadian announcement came the news from the United States Department of Agriculture of its complete scrapping of it’s $142 million NAIS (National Animal Identification System) and starting it’s disease traceabililty program from scratch according to the Washington-based American Horse Council. Apparently, the decision came after a USDA national listening tour.

We’ll be keeping track of this as it progresses, but in the meantime, thoughts anyone?

Comments

  1. Eva Smith says

    Important questions need to be answered. Who will be assigned the task of building and maintaing the database system described here – “a comprehensive electronic system will be built to incorporate unique equine identification, movement tracking, and health and drug administration information necessary to satisfy food safety and bio-security requirements.

    “It is expected that further information and details regarding the development and implementation of the national identification and traceability system will be announced shortly.”

    Who is determining the standards? Is there collaboration with the provincial industries? Who will do the building of the database? Who will be maintaining the information? Will the Privacy laws be upheld?

    These are serious questions that need answers, and the horse owners should have primary input.

  2. Sheila Howe says

    My family has been in cattle and reg. Quarter horses for years and it is getting harder and harder to keep a float. With drought we have no control over but to have to live with so many educated wizzards that come up with such intelliegent ideas,its getting so no one in agriculture can do any thing right,Paper work, cost, cost.No one is going to be left for the oh so educated people to keep their high and mighty job that bossing us hard working country people All our horses are reg. they already have papers, records,pictures and Dna and membership and costs.Now some one else is planning our live too. Government better clue in agric is on the edge of disaster, we can not keep going with any more of their big ideas. We can not break even with their plans now . Lets scrap this now.government please stand up for your people that have fed the people in the cities.

  3. Susan Kauffmann says

    This is a joke. What do they mean by “complete health records”? People could be giving their horses all kinds of things, but will simply not mention it in said “health record” if they don’t want to. Are you going to put spy cams in every barn, post guys with night vision goggles to watch and see if anyone is sneaking in an unreported dose of Bute? Spare me!

  4. Leanne Snellen says

    It’s a fundamental question: Are our horses companion animals, food animals, or both?

    If they are a companion, how could we morally eat them unless we are suffering dire starvation. If they are food, then how could love them, romanticize them, spend thousands training and outfitting them, paint portraits of them and all the other mushy stuff we do. If they are both companion and food animals, their fate is wholly dependent on the worth given to them by their fickle owners. If a horse doesn’t work out, they are shipped to be eaten unless a rescue organization steps in.

    I do not believe any horse deserves this fate. We don’t eat our working stock dogs, or tracking dogs or hunting dogs, we humanely euthanize them. A horse that is unfit to be used or handled safely, should have the same dignity. I’m sure , if there was a market to send our unfit dogs for sale, some would sell them for consumption, and justify it as good economic sense, and a good use of a renewable resource.

    Horses exist in a state of limbo in this respect, they are our companions whom we can sell at the end of their usefulness or at the end of our love affair with them, or …..when we run out of food to feed the ones we collect like ornaments for our pasture.

    I like the new rules, they are forcing a debate that is desperatly needed,and in a short while, they won’t have to be shipped to concentration camps to spend their final days/weeks or months waiting to become food. Can you tell how I define my horses?

  5. You seem very knowledgable about this issue and it shows. Trust all your future posts turn out as well. Cheers!

  6. Useful information, many thanks to the author. It is puzzling to me now, but in general, the usefulness and importance is overwhelming. Very much thanks again and good luck!

  7. Really appreciate you sharing this article post.Really thank you! Really Great.

  8. I don’t believe some of these posts. The new regulations come from the European Union – the people who are actually EATING our horses. They have finally gotten it through their heads that American’s don’t consider horses to be food animals, so they’re not subject to the restrictions that apply to food animals.

    Since we, most of us anyway, do not consider our horses food, we don’t raise them as you would a food animal. We expose them to chemicals that are strictly banned from the food chain. Ever notice those label warnings on bute, wormers, fly spray, many topicals, and on and on that says: Not for use in animals to be used for food. Ever notice those? That means that if your horse has ever in his/her ENTIRE LIFE been exposed to those chemicals he/she is banned from the human food chain PERMANENTLY.

    We have absolutely NO WAY of tracking this, so no American horse can be considered safe to eat. Just bute, for instance, is a known carcinogen, and causes bone marrow suppression and a-plastic anemia in humans.

    In Europe they have a very elaborate system – which is what Canada plans to implement by 2013 – in which within a short time after a horse is foaled he/she must have a microchip implanted with a unique tracking number. The horse is then issued a passport with all that info on ALL medications, illnesses, movements, etc. This passport MUST be with the horse when he/she is presented for slaughter, and the microchip number is checked to make sure it and the passport number are the same. I’m not sure about ALL the ins and outs, but that’s the gist of it.

    If you sell your horse for slaughter, you will have to have done all this, except of course, the US doesn’t have such a program and never will. However, it may be moot, because I’m sure the EU will be considering just banning American horses from their food chain. Canada recently had a lawmaker submit a bill to ban horse slaughter entirely in Canada because he couldn’t see any way they could get all this information for American horses.

    The market is collapsing anyway. A number of EU meat importers have promised their customers that they will by meat only from European horses. This is more about the extreme cruelty of the slaughter pipe line – which the Europeans did not know about but do now – than about meat safety issues, but that is coming. France in particular is said to be very upset about the chemicals they’ve been eating from American horses.

    This will ONLY affect horse owners who – for whatever reason – choose to send their horses straight to hell instead of providing them with a humane death.

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