Horsemeat scandal hurting Alberta industry
The horsemeat scandal rocking the European Union is having a ripple effect on Alberta’s small industry.
In Europe horsemeat has been found in frozen supermarket meals such as burgers and lasagna that were supposed to contain beef or pork.
The scandal widened on Monday with news that Ikea’s iconic meatballs were discovered to contain horsemeat in the Czech Republic.
Reaction to the scandal in Europe is now causing a slowdown of the horsemeat industry in Alberta, said Bruce Flewelling, who sells horses for slaughter.
There are two plants that slaughter horses in Alberta — one in Fort Macleod and another in Lacombe.
"They haven’t quite shut it down 100 per cent, but they’ve really… put it to a standstill because there’s a couple of countries that aren’t accepting any horsemeat until we get this clarified."
The two plants in Alberta process tens of thousands of horses every year, selling the meat to places such as Belgium, France and Japan, said Flewelling.
The animals tend to be older quarter horses or surplus stock from native reserves. No horses are raised specifically for slaughter in Alberta, he said.
Once the controversy fades in Europe, business will return to normal in Alberta, Flewelling predicted. "I think the market will return," he said.
In response to critics who are opposed to killing horses for food, Flewelling says slaughtering the animals is humane.
"Look at the United States. Look at the chaos that caused down there when they shut down all the plants," he said. "Look at the horses that are turned out in the parks and the highways that are starving to death."