Horses, Meat, Forged Paperwork Seized in European Raid

Officials seized an unspecified number of slaughter-bound horses that might not have been meant for human consumption.

Horses, Meat, Forged Paperwork Seized in European Raid
Diogène, an 18-year-old French saddle horse entrusted to a family friend during his owner’s pregnancy, allegedly had his passport modified to removed the “not for slaughter” disclaimer and ended up killed for meat. | Photo: Courtesy Lucie Claisse
An operation led by international crime investigation organizations December through June has led to the seizure of more than 17 metric tons (about 19 U.S. tons) of horse meat in Belgium, Ireland, Italy, Spain, and the Netherlands. Authorities also seized an unspecified number of slaughter-bound horses in the operation, according to official reports.

About 20% of the horse’s passports showed signs of forgery, stated authorities at Europol, the European equivalent of the FBI, working in collaboration with Interpol. This means the horses might have been the ones described in accompanying identification papers.

Marked “Not for Food”

Passport forgery could also mean the horses should have been excluded from the food chain, said Julie Schneider, director of identification and audit at France’s national horse and equitation institute (IFCE) and national equine registry (SIRE). European horse owners can choose to permanently block their horses from the meat trade by checking a box on their passports for exclusion. They might do so for personal preference or for human health reasons if the horse receives medications that could endanger humans.

However, if the passport doesn’t match the horse, the slaughterhouse doesn’t read the passport, or forgery has occurred, the horse could be slaughtered anyway, she

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Passionate about horses and science from the time she was riding her first Shetland Pony in Texas, Christa Lesté-Lasserre writes about scientific research that contributes to a better understanding of all equids. After undergrad studies in science, journalism, and literature, she received a master’s degree in creative writing. Now based in France, she aims to present the most fascinating aspect of equine science: the story it creates. Follow Lesté-Lasserre on Twitter @christalestelas.

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