Quebec slaughterhouse investigation requested

Critics say Canada’s tracking system fails to record drugs given during the animal’s life, some of which should prevent them entering the food supply

An animal welfare group has lodged a complaint against a horse slaughter plant with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the Competition Bureau of Canada.

Ewa Demianowicz, campaign manager for Humane Society International/Canada, said the Viande Richealieu plant near Massueville, Que., is not being honest with how it manages horses before they are processed.

“They are claiming that they implement a rigorous tracking program from farm to shelf and that they’re confirming European food safety standards in regards to the horse meat they’re exporting, but we believe that this is not true and that these claims are misleading,” Demianowicz said. 

Canadian slaughter plants imported 12,000 horses from the U.S. in 2014, and the federal government requests that an equine information document be filed with each horse sold. This is the foundation for the Canadian tracking system on which registered horse slaughter plants rely.

Demianowicz is concerned the form is inadequate. 

“The owner at the moment of signing the document … has no veterinary records or official records with him and (claims) this horse has not received any illegal substance to their knowledge in the last six months,” she said.

The form requires details about illness and medication use for 180 days before the sale or during the time of ownership.

However, kill buyers, who buy horses from owners and sell them to slaughter plants, may own a horse for only a few days and answer truthfully that there were no concerns during the time of ownership.

The European Commission’s Food and Veterinary Office re-leased an audit report in 2014 that raised concerns about these regulations.


“In Europe, there is a very serious tracking process where veterinarians that have drugged horses follow the horse,” Demianowicz said.

“It’s an official microchip system. In the database, you can see what the horse has received throughout its lifetime.”

She criticized the government for not improving its system. 

“The audit came out in 2014, and in 2011 with the same issues raised, and since then we haven’t seen any improvement or changes that would guarantee the safety around horse meat,” she said. 

CFIA inspectors work at all federally registered slaughter and processing plants to confirm that meat products are produced to national standards. 

The agency also randomly tests for contaminants in the meat once it is processed. Meat must also comply with standards as outlined by the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Health Organization before it is exported. 

Bill desBarres, chair of the Horse Welfare Alliance of Canada, rejected Humane Society International/Canada’s accusation against the Quebec plant.

“Richelieu is a very competent plant and they are compliant with the testing,” he said. “We have not received any record that either the testing compliant services at the plant or the CFIA have had any positive tests related to drug content in the processing and produce of meat from that plant.”


In addition to randomly testing horse meat for residues, the CFIA also conducts testing based on observations of horses before stunning and slaughter. 

Veterinarians and inspectors also identify horses in plants that look like they have been medically treated. The meat in these cases will be held for further testing to determine no residues. 

“Our Canadian system is well known internationally to be very competent, and there has been no evidence in propriety that has allowed an animal to be admitted to processing and or determined afterwards that the animal should not have been submitted for processing,” said desBarres.

Sinikka Crosland, executive director of the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition, said Humane Society International/Canada’s complaint is justified.  

“The majority of horses entering the slaughter pipeline have not been raised as food animals; therefore, many of these animals have been administered drugs during their lifetimes that are prohibited from entering the human food supply,” Crosland said in an email.

“Thus, horse meat consumption can be considered risky at best.”

Canadian plants slaughtered 61,000 horses in 2014, which is down from a spike in 2007 when slaughter was banned in the United States for three years. 


  • savinghorses2

    [Name redacted by WP ed] is a Known Killer Buyer. He knows of thecoverups. The affidavits are falsely filed by killer buyers who claim no drugs have ever been administered. They have Not complied with the EU which requires a tracibility report from conception to slaughter from every owner and vet trainer handler that has administered anything to the horses. His organization UNIFIED EQUINE was under question in the USA as the former Sue Wallis attempted to pressure horse slaughter to reopen She had Absolutely No experience with horse slaughter plants and was in business with the man above. She had been investigated for other Deceptive Equine Slaughter Organizations and she quickly disbanded them and joined forces with
    Canada. [This person] is involved in the issues have in
    America with wild horses [he] says when an American wild horse enters
    Canada it becomes a
    Canadian horse and is eligible for slaughter.. He is very deceptive. The horse slaughter Industry is very manipulative. They suffer abuse and are carved up while living. [He] uses being in the Appaloosa Hall Of Fame to try to pit on a good guy act. I have raised horses Appaloosa my entire life and the only goal was keep them away from this man.

  • savinghorses2

    Affidavits of health are falsely filed. They have NO Tracibility documents. They do not withdrawal for any timeline that’s legit because they claim no drugs on the false affidavits. Undercover videos online show these drivers admitting these are falsified. [He] himself was involved with former Wy Rep. Sue Wallis. There were serious issues swirling around her and the horse processing in the
    USA. He himself purchases to ship to slaughter so he will say anything to keep it open.

  • Nancy Watson

    What I dont understand is why the EU Commission is okay with a 180 day withdrawal period for drugs that are banned for use in food producing animals in the EU, who has a passport tracking system to trace all drugs administered to every horse. Once a horse receives one of those drugs, such as bute, they are disqualified from the food chain forever. So why on earth do they only have a 180 waiting period for Canada? Do Europeans know they are eating poisoned horsemeat?

  • Jan Berman

    I know where there is a stack of falsified EIDs If these reporters and I ( Joe Public) can find the evidence of the fraudulent horse meat industry, why is it so hard for the CFIA to find the proof, especially when time and again it is shoved right under their noses! There are horses heading to that slaughter plant with their racing shoes still on! Trailer loads of drug saturated race horses are still leaving the back side of race tracks with horses to be shipped directly to slaughter to prevent them being identified and the previous owner/trainer losing track privileges. Believe me, they are not being held anywhere for 6 months at a cost of $200 or more per month for feed to be sold for half that to the plant! Just use plain common sense here!
    All I can say is that there are non so bind as those who will not see!

  • rewardingben .

    This article states that “Canadian slaughter plants imported 12,000 horses from the U.S. in 2014”. According to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s statistics over 40,000 of the 66,785 horses slaughtered in Canada that year were US imports.

    Last year, the European Commission released the findings of its 2014 audit carried out in Canada, undertaken to evaluate controls over the production of meat products destined for export to the European Union. It cited a number of concerns and concluded:
    “There are serious concerns in relation to the reliability of the controls over both imported and domestic horses destined for export to the EU. It cannot be guaranteed that horses have not been treated with illegal substances within the last 180 days before slaughter.”

    I would also like to point out drugs included in the CFIA’s ”List of Veterinary Drugs Not Permitted For Use in Equine Slaughtered for Food” table have no withdrawal time. Yet a 6 month drug history ‘to your knowledge’ is all that is required on the EID.
    Part 2, Question 3 in the Medical History section of the EID asks:
    “Has the animal identified on this document to your knowledge been treated with a substance listed under the table named substances not permitted for use in food producing equine found in the Meat Hygiene Manual of Procedures, Chapter 17, Annex E, section E.5 during the shortest of the following 2 periods: in the last 180 days, or during the time you owned the animal? Circle Yes or No.”

    I’m glad to see HSI proceed with this complaint. I’ll be watching to see how it plays out.