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Radioactive horse meat: Dark dealings of Europe’s cruellest trade

“….Soil in central Poland was contaminated by a wide spectrum of radionuclides (Table 8;12). In the north eastern part of the country Cs137 and Cs134 gound deposition levels, were up to 30 Bq/m2 and Iodone 131 and Iodine 132 depodition levels were up to 1 MBq/m2…”  (Energy 2008) Source : Page 231

Faster track for country-of-origin labelling on meat  (ie wheres the radioactive meat come from? [Arclight2011] )

26 February, 2013
By Line Elise Svanevik, Carina Perkins

The European Commission has agreed to speed up the publication of its paper on options for country-of-origin labelling of processed meat products in the wake of the horsemeat scandal.

Speaking after a meeting with EU commissioner for health and consumer policy Tonio Borg yesterday, Environment Secretary Owen Paterson said the Commission had responded to his call on country-of-origin labelling.

He said the publication of the paper would “help all member states form their own position on what any regulations would look like”.

Paterson met with Borg ahead of yesterday’s EU Agriculture Council meeting in Brussels, where ministers from all 27 Member States discussed the horsemeat scandal.

“The Agriculture Council meeting was the first time that all European ministers have been able to gather round the table to discuss this cross-border criminal problem,” said Paterson. “We need coordinated action by every member state across Europe to rebuild consumer confidence in the products provided by food businesses, and to ensure perpetrators are prosecuted.”

Country-of-origin labelling was one of the items under discussion at the meeting. “Several delegations called for a labelling of the origin of meat entering in the composition of processed meat products,” said a statement from the Council.

“In addition, several member states pointed out that the report on the impact assessment of labelling the origin of meat in processed food, the publication of which was scheduled for December this year, should be published before or after summer.”

EU testing of meat products was also under discussion, with ministers discussing the option of extending the testing programme for a further two months beyond March. However, no final decision was taken at the meeting.

Horsemeat scandal ‘primarily a labelling issue’, says EFRA (But not for radiation? [Arclight2011] )

14 February, 2013
By Nicholas Robinson

A report on the contamination of beef products compiled by the House of Commons’ Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee has concluded that the incident was “primarily a food labelling issue”.

However, it also said that any suggestions of fraud on a “massive scale” suggested that measures needed to be put in place “now” to stop something like this happening again.

Image source : Pictures: Animals Inherit Mixed Legacy at Chernobyl

The report added: “The strong indications that people have intentionally substituted horsemeat for beef leads us to conclude that British consumers have been cynically and systematically duped in pursuit of profit by elements within the food industry.”


The report said that since the introduction of the European Single Market in 1993, the UK has had no import controls on food from other countries in the EU. However, the Minister of State for Agriculture and Food David Heath said it was the responsibility of the exporting country to ensure the correct checks and tests had been carried out on meat products due to be exported.

Meanwhile, Defra said checks could be carried out at the border “if there are grounds to suspect the consignment does not comply with EU conditions”.

Defra added: “Food imported into the UK must satisfy regulations under the Food Safety Act 1990, including regulations that aim to ensure that food has the satisfied and relevant hygiene requirements at all stages of production.”

The British Meat Processors Association (BMPA) placed responsibility for product safety and authenticity with all parts of the food supply chain. It said: “Food manufacturers have extensive and well-established procedures to document their sources of raw material, the food manufacturing process and the compositional content of the food they produce. They have internal quality control procedures – for example, traceability documentation, raw material intake procedures, microbiological testing, testing of fat levels, temperature controls, control of foreign bodies, and cleaning down of machinery and equipment.”

The supply chain

Additionally, it has been the main priority of the government to determine the point at which the contamination entered the supply chain. And ABP Foods, which owns Silvercrest – the processor that supplied horse and pork contaminated beef burgers to Tesco – stated it had “never knowingly bought, handled or supplied equine meat products”.

Supermarkets also stated they had procedures in place to ensure the quality of the products they sold. In a statement to the Committee, Tesco said: “Once a supplier has been approved to supply us, we have an ongoing programme of site visits, audits and product surveillance to ensure our standards are being maintained. These processes are in addition to those carried out by the relevant food authority, and the suppliers themselves.”


Additional to the procedures already in place, Tesco group technical director Tim Smith said Tesco had decided to “make a significant investment, at our cost, in DNA sampling of those meats and meat products where this is a potential risk to consumers”.

Smith added that it would cost Tesco between £1m and £2m a year to DNA-test samples from every site that produces for it and the costs would come from his technical function, which is independent within Tesco. He said Tesco would “make a significant investment, at our cost, in DNA sampling of those meats and meat products where this is a potential risk to consumers”.

However, the Committee report highlighted the fact that the Food Standards Agency (FSA) did not carry out food tests, which are done by local authorities and trading standards officers. The FSA told the Committee: “The Agency provides funding to these authorities to undertake testing for specific ingredients or items it has identified on its risk register.”,_says_EFRA.html

Horse meat: Dark dealings of Europe’s cruellest trade

By , in Skaryszew

7:30AM GMT 24 Feb 2013

The Telegraph

It is minus 6C and the tea is laced with vodka. Handfuls of notes are being carefully counted and Piotr is leaving with 7,000 zloty – about £1,400 – for his old mare.

He is not alone. Everywhere on the frozen, snow-covered field, groups of men are looking at horses and haggling over their price.

Welcome to Skaryszew: the place where horses arrive from Polish farms and leave in lorries for fattening and slaughter.

Men have been selling horses here on the first Monday of Lent since 1432.

But now those horses could even end up in the British food chain, because Skaryszew, 75 miles from Warsaw, is the start of a long, and sometimes obscure chain that has been blamed for horse meat being found masquerading as beef in British shops and wholesalers.

(David Rose for the Telegraph)

From Skaryszew, the horses will travel as far afield as Italy to be slaughtered. Who profits from the trade, and what checks to ensure the horses are safe to eat are, at best, questionable.

For Piotr, however, it has been a good trip. The farmer has travelled two hours from his village, Cisów, to sell his mare, expecting to get 5,000 zloty for the animal – a large amount in a country where the average agricultural worker’s annual wage is just under £1,200 a year.

His entrance to the fair at 1am is hampered by a group of Polish animal rights protesters who jump in front of his truck, demanding that their vets examine his horses before he can continue.

Security staff also check that he has the correct paperwork, including passports, for both horses he is transporting.

“She can’t get pregnant so I want to get rid of her,” he says. He has other horses, he adds, enough that the mare does not have a name.

Speaking from the cab of his truck, which is littered with beer cans, he says that the other horse belongs to a friend who will be arriving later.

Although his documents are checked animal welfare campaigners, who are here to investigate the trade, say that the passport system – which exists to follow European law and is therefore almost the same as the one in Britain – is open to abuse.

Handfuls of notes are being carefully counted (David Rose for the Telegraph)

The passports say whether the horses are fit for human consumption and are issued by the Polish Horse Breeders Association at 18 regional offices, but there are concerns that the documents can be forged, or the details on genuine ones falsified by unscrupulous vets – concerns that have already been raised about the British scheme.

There are no government inspectors at Skaryszew, so when security staff check passports, it is no guarantee of their authenticity.

Piotr parks in a row of trucks, all with horses tethered to the back. This is where the deals are struck.

A black stallion rears up, to the excitement of the crowd and its boisterous – and drunk – owner, Zbyszek.

“It’s the best horse in the village,” he proclaims, pulling on its harness to bring it under control, but he does not care if it gets sold for meat or breeding. “I just want to get rid of it, I have too many horses,” he says.

Close by are six or seven men in leather jackets and black flat caps. This is how buyers and sellers meet, smoking cigarettes and drinking their vodka-laced tea.

One shines his torch on a horse, tethered to a truck, before slapping the hand of the seller to confirm the deal. All along the road, similar exchanges are taking place under the glare of lamps powered by noisy generators.

The meat trade is carried out at night and the sellers either know, or do not care, that their animals are going for slaughter. During the day, most horses are bought for farms or as pets. However, for now, in the darkness, the trade is in meat.

Further along the road a Lithuanian-registered lorry has parked. It has two trailers and, by the end of the night, they will be filled with 21 horses.

A sick horse, after a long journey, it’s to weak to stand and will require vetenary treatment (David Rose for the Telegraph)

A group of men, some carrying thick wooden sticks, which are apparently rarely used, are gathered around it. Throughout the night they bring horses to the lorry and gradually it starts to fill up.

By 3am, it comes good for Piotr, when he sells his mare to the Lithuanian contingent for 2,000 zloty, about £400 more than he hoped, and he runs back to his truck, empty headcollar in hand, to fetch her passport.

“I’m happy, it’s more than I expected,” he says breathlessly, before running back to the Lithuanian lorry to collect his money.

The owner of the truck, who would give his name only as Algis, said that he would be taking the horses to Lithuania, almost 400 miles away.

“These horses will not be eaten because Lithuania is short of horses for work and for leisure,” he said.

However World Horse Welfare, a British charity which campaigns for greater regulation of the transportation of horses, and whose campaigns officers are at the fair, says that the truth is very different.

Successful deals made at the 400 year old market (David Rose for the Telegraph)

This lorry load, and others from the fair’s late night deals, are heading for slaughter. The reticence to admit it is because the animal rights activists, as well as international campaigners, have stepped up their interest in the trade.

Poland is the biggest exporter of horses in the EU, accounting for 45 per cent of the 65,000 transported every year.

The sheer number reflects the country’s size and the abundance of horses on its farms, where modern methods are slowly arriving.

There are hundreds of fairs every month and most horses will end up in the Bari region of Italy, where horse meat is popular, unlike in Poland where, like Britain, it is barely eaten – at least knowingly.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the charity is most worried about the welfare of the animals, which it points out can lead to disease and leave meat unfit for human consumption, a concern which is likely to be heightened by the lack of inspectors checking the horses before they are driven from Skaryszew.

Hannah Westen, a campaigns officer for the charity who watched the sale, said: “Long-distance transportation across Europe for slaughter causes massive stress to the horses involved and leads to serious welfare problems such as exhaustion, dehydration, injury and disease.

“This suffering is utterly needless, horses could be slaughtered close to their point of origin and the meat transported instead.”

However, a more sinister set of suspicions hang over the whole horse trade in Poland: that it is a front for crime.

The Hungarian Border Freight Park on the Cech Border (David Rose for the Telegraph)

Piotr, like most of those who sold animals at last week’s fair, was paid almost £3.40 a kg for his horse, yet the most expensive horse meat, from foals, fetches only £2.40 a kg in Italy, where the animals will mostly be slaughtered.

On top of the payment to Piotr and the other sellers is the cost of a journey covering about 1,500 miles. The route the horses take goes through Poland, then into the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Slovenia before entering Italy.

At a cost of at least an extra 250 miles it avoids the direct route through Austria, where checks on welfare and, perhaps more importantly, paperwork are more rigorous, according to World Horse Welfare.

Additionally, some horses will be kept for as long as six months at stops along the way to be fattened up.

The charity, and the Polish authorities, suspect the answer is simple: that the horses are being used in a form of money laundering.

The suspicion is that the movement of horses creates a convenient paper trail for gangs to “clean up” dirty money.

By exaggerating the value and number of horses moved, they can explain the existence of large amounts of cash gained from less legitimate enterprises.

Paying farmers like Piotr slightly over the odds for their animals is, then, a small price compared with the potential profits.

There are darker suggestions too, that the lorries can sometimes be used to smuggle drugs or guns, relying on the presence of horses to create the impression of legitimacy.

If true, it would confirm the fears voiced by Owen Paterson, the Environment Secretary, that criminality is in part the cause of the horse contamination scandal.

And also, it would be little surprise that the horses might enter the food chain as beef – as they have been proved to in Poland and France – because their disposal is simply the final element in the chain.

Most of those who sold animals at last week’s fair were paid almost £3.40 a kg for their horses (Reuters)

Their transporters will be little concerned with where exactly they end up, as long as they have made it to a slaughter house.

The first stop for the Lithuanian lorry with Piotr’s horse is at the Pol-Madi assembly centre in Chronowek, 20 miles away, where the transport firm checks on the horses and draws up paperwork for the lorry-load.

From there the long road to Bari begins, with the final stop before Italy usually at Rédics in Hungary, on its border with Slovenia, where there is a feeding station.

The caretaker is paid in cash, about £50, for food and drink for animals on a small truck, to £190 for 24 hours’ rest. Sometimes there is an extra charge of £86 to remove a dead animal.

The stop is owned by a Hungarian businessman who lives in Liechtenstein, through a company formally closed in October by the Hungarian courts for financial irregularities.

When asked if the lorry drivers carried anything other than livestock, the caretaker said: “This is something that is really hidden from my eyes. Now that the borders are open it is very much possible.

“I am sure there are people who are in the business for a reason, but I am not one of those.”

Whatever the truth of the finances behind the horse trade, Piotr’s mare is firmly on its way to Italy – a country which yesterday announced it too had found beef products contaminated with horse.

The discovery is likely to prompt Italian authorities to take an interest in the opaque trade which brings horses to their country, and quite possibly into Europe’s food chain in the form of fake beef.

More Images on link..

Title: Radioactivity cesium 137 cesium 134 feces horses fattening calves period june october 1986

URL: Retrieve

Description: The paper deals with data on radioactivity levels of Cs-137 and Cs-134 in feces of horses and fattening calves, as a particularly relevant indicator of radionuclides metabolism in biological systems. The result indicated much higher degree of equine feces contamination in relation to the feces of fattening calves.

J Environ Radioact. 2006;85(1):84-93.

A pilot study on the transfer of 137Cs and 90Sr to horse milk and meat.


GSF-Institut für Strahlenschutz, Postfach 1129, D-85788 Neuherberg, Germany.


The radiological assessment of the impact of nuclear weapon’s testing on the Semipalatinsk Test Site (STS) on the local population requires comprehensive site-specific information on radionuclide behaviour in the environment. However, information on radionuclide behaviour in the conditions of the STS is rather sparse and, in particular, there are no data in the literature on parameters of radionuclide transfer from feed to horse products proofed to be important contributors to the internal dose to the local population. The transfer of 137Cs and 90Sr to horse milk and meat was studied under laboratory and field conditions: in controlled experiment with three lactating horses maintained in the Kazakh Agricultural Research Institute, and in field measurements of horse products taken from horses grazing at the Semipalatinsk Test Site. The equilibrium transfer factors from feed to horse milk and meat were estimated to be 0.012 dl(-1) and 0.035 dkg(-1) for (137)Cs and 0.0022 dl(-1) and 0.003 dkg(-1) for (90)Sr, respectively. The biological half-lives were approximated by a sum of two exponentials amounting to 3 (85%) and 15 (15%) days for 137Cs and 3.5 (70%) and 100 (30%) days for 90Sr. The highest 137Cs transfer has been found to be to spleen, followed by lung, heart, muscles, kidneys, intestine, and finally skin and bones. For90Sr, the maximum activity concentration was observed in bones; contamination of other tissues is rather uniform except for liver and intestine with a factor of about 2 higher than muscles.

[PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

February 26, 2013 - Posted by | Uncategorized


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