Animal rights organizations Gaia and Tierschutzbund Zürich and discounter Lidl appealed to the European Commission and supermarket chains to stop importing American horse meat, because of the horse cruelty in the country of origin.
"Glaring circumstances proven"
Michel Vandenbosch, president of Belgian animal rights organisation Gaia, has presented a shocking report about the import of American horse meat into Europe. The report and accompanying images clearly show the horrific circumstances in which horses from North and Latin America are bought, transported and slaughtered.
"These images are in stark contrast to the supermarket claims, chains that keep saying that the horse meat import is up to the EU standards", the animal rights activist stated.
"Supermarkets are being duped"
The European Union imports 26,450 tonnes of horse meat each year from the United States, Canada, Uruguay, Mexico and Argentina, with 17,000 tonnes passing through Belgium. "Belgium is the hub for European horse meat", Michel Vandenbosch said.
Not only are the biggest importers Belgian (Equinox, Velda, De Nil, Multimeat and Chevideco), they also supply pretty much every supermarket chain in Belgium. "Lidl is the sole exception, as it has no longer sold any fresh horse meat since our last revelations, because the chain also believes animal welfare cannot be guaranteed", Gaia stated.
"Colruyt sells only Romanian horse meat, but Gaia has shown last year that this meat is also obtained through despicable methods. Aldi / Renmans, Carrefour, Cora, Delhaize, Makro, Match, Intermarché and Spar all still buy Latin American horse meat and believe that every single piece can be traced back to its origin, but that is definitely not the case".
Supermarket consultation planned
Discounter Lidl has said Gaia's findings are not surprising. "We have stopped selling horse meat three years ago, because it is impossible to trace the meat's origin. We have done this purely out of animal welfare and Gaia's results prove to us that we have made the right decision", spokesperson Pieterjan Rynwalt has said.
The chain has now appealed to other parties to "stop selling horse meat, like Lidl. We hope this report can move others to do the same". It seems to work, because talks between Gaia and Intermarché, Makro, Cora, Carrefour, Renmans and Delhaize have been planned for March.