New rules set out for Racehorses not to enter food chain
A new set of rules to prevent racehorses from being euthanised by abattoirs and entering the food chain in exchange for money will come into force next year (2022).
The rule will apply to those registered to race in Great Britain (GB), and will be enforced by disclosure using the horse’s passport and an app. Discussion and investigations to extend this to International runners are underway.
The motion was formerly raised in January 2021 by the British Horseracing Authority’s (BHA) veterinary committee, as the current procedures deny equines access to pain-killers such as phenylbutazone (Bute), and other drugs should they become injured. The new rules however will allow for effective treatment of injuries, as GB raced horses will no longer be allowed to enter the food chain, in a move to further improve the welfare of racehorses.
Following a Panorama investigation, a documentary aired in July 2021 titled ‘The Dark Side to Racing’ reported over 4,000 former racehorses were sent to slaughter to enter the food chain since 2019, in England and Ireland.
As with any equine related issue, the racing industry does not stand alone in their concerns for welfare.
Alongside historic slaughter operations, the documentary further raised significant concern as The World Horse Welfare (WHW) alongside other key industry charities issued the following statement:
As welfare charities we were disturbed and deeply concerned by Monday’s (19/07/2021) BBC Panorama programme. It highlighted a number of issues that are not solely connected to racing, many of which the welfare charities have long been trying to bring to public and Government attention.
It showed horses being transported for slaughter over many miles, across country borders and in some cases while suffering with injuries such as severe lameness, in direct contravention of horse transport regulations. It also showed falsification of passports and failures in the equine ID and traceability system and the concerning treatment of horses in a slaughterhouse.
The current concerns and work from the key industry players, including the WHW, accompanied with rule changes set out by the BHA undoubtedly brings us one step closer to improving equine welfare as a whole.