Dutch slaughterhouses embroiled in new horse meat scandal

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The Dutch food and product safety board NVWA says it has no evidence that illegally slaughtered horse meat is currently for sale on the Dutch market but that an investigation into fraud involving horse passports has been recently passed to the public prosecution department.

Horse passports include records of all medicines given to the animals during their racing careers, making their meat unfit for human consumption.

“The meat was removed from the market,” the spokesman told broadcaster NOS. Other countries have also been warned, the spokesman said.

The response follows claims by Dutch animal welfare campaign group House of Animals and Irish broadcaster RTE that several Dutch horse traders are involved in the illegal slaughter of old or ill race horses.

They claim thousands of old British and Irish horses disappear from the registration system, only to end up in an illegal circuit in Europe where they are given a new identity, making it possible for their meat to end up in the food chain.

In the Netherlands, their meat has ended up in snacks such as bitterballen, House of Animals says.

The European Commission issued a non-compliance notice in April this year, related to 51 horses that affected Italy and the Netherlands. These were animals that were declared dead in one member state and yet their identification number turned up later in the records of slaughter plants somewhere else, RTE said.

The Netherlands has been involved in several earlier scandals surrounding horse meat which is not fit for human consumption.

In 2017, a Dutch national was one of dozens of people arrested in connection with a Europe-wide investigation into the sale of horse meat and in 2015, three people were arrested in the Netherlands and 15 companies raided in a Europe-wide investigation into the sale of illegal horse meat.

In 2013, it transpired some 50,000 tonnes of meat supplied by two Dutch trading companies and sold as beef across Europe since January 2011 may have contained horse meat.

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