7th March 2013
Dog, cat and rat burgers - have you already had one?
MEP expresses fears that meat from companion animals could have entered the human food chain
Animal charity Viva! has today written to all major British supermarkets asking if they have tested for dog and cat meat in their processed products. It follows a claim from a Scottish MEP that shocking revelations about dog and rat meat entering the human food chain may only be days away(1).
Spanish authorities are investigating a number of criminal scams where dead animals from sanctuaries, vets and even zoos are being stockpiled and sold to processors rather than being incinerated. One warehouse found to contain 15 tons of animal carcasses(2) and a processor in Northern Spain was shut down in January 2013 after dog DNA was found at the plant(3).
The authorities say they cannot rule out that dog meat has already entered the human food chain and the contamination could be widespread across Spain and other EU countries.
At the same time as the horse meat scandal exploded in Britain, calls for better testing of processed meat in Spain were being made by the countrys top DNA analysis organisation(4). Viva! says this not only raises questions about what British holidaymakers may have eaten Spain but also for British supermarkets and processors who had no idea that horse meat was in their products. The tests they have carried out show widespread contamination with horse meat would not have revealed the presence of dog, cat or rat meat.
There are also fears that meat from euthanized dogs and other sick animals may have found its way into pet food, which could lead to cannibalism. If also used in farmed animal feed, residues of antibiotics and other drugs, used to treat those animals, may be present in some UK meat products. Spanish molecular biologist, Montse Espiñeira, has warned it could potentially cause a disaster similar to the Mad Cow crisis.
Justin Kerswell, campaigns manager at Viva!, says: It is a horrifying possibility that dog and rat meat might have entered the human food chain, but given the depth of ineptitude shown and the EU-wide fraud the horse meat scandal has exposed, it seems entirely plausible. It may only be a matter of time before dog, rat and perhaps even cat meat is found in British processed food or farmed animal feed.
British supermarkets have been selling horse meat to consumers for years without knowing it, so what else has been on sale? Perhaps consumers have been fed cat and dog meat for some time without knowing that to be the case. We will have no idea unless they specifically test for it.
The only way to ensure that you are not part of this growing scandal is simply not to eat meat. It really is time to go veggie.
Viva!s campaigns expose factory farming and meat industry practices in Britain and offers free advice to consumers wishing to cut meat out of their diets: www.viva.org.uk or call 0117 944 1000.
For more information about this media release, call Justin Kerswell on 0117 944 1000 or email email@example.com.
Notes to Editors
(1) SNP MEP Alyn Smith told the Scottish Sun that: Colleagues from France and Belgium tell me they expect results of tests any minute which will confirm dog and rat in the human food chain. Im concerned given the EU-wide pet food market this contamination could be considerably more widespread. Mr Smiths claims were featured in the Scottish Sun on the 3 March 2013: http://www.thescottishsun.co.uk/scotsol/homepage/news/4811597/Dogs-and-rats-found-in-food-chain.html.
(2) In May 2012 Spanish authorities found 15 tons of animal carcases (including dogs and cats) in a warehouse and other dead animals at another address. All these animals were category 1 (not for human consumption because of infectious diseases of drug residues) and should have been incinerated. http://www.lavozdegalicia.es/noticia/galicia/2012/05/06/seprona-descubre-dos-naves-15-toneladas-cadaveres-animales/0003_201205G6P4991.htm
(3) A processing plant in the Northern Spanish town of Salamanca was shut down and arrests made after dog DNA was found in animal feed in January 2013. The authorities have linked the operation to 15 tons of animals carcases found in May 2012 and have declared the situation a serious public health risk. It is believed to be part of a criminal scam where animals collected for incineration are either dumped or are processed to enter the food chain. Spanish animal rescue group Cambados Refugi have said that they believe there have been irregularities with animal burials in the region for years.
The firm in Salamanca traded with over 40 companies throughout Spain and in other European countries including Holland and Portugal, which may then have shipped products throughout the EU.
The authorities have also said that they cannot rule out that the meat entered the human food chain directly.
Every year, 30,000 'meat' horses leave Poland for the slaughterhouses of Italy. There is no rest, no water and no food for many on the road to misery - a five day journey across six countries. Viva!'s campaign has helped to save some 70,000 horses a year. More details can be found at www.viva.org.uk/helphorses.