Australia | Caboolture, Queensland | Horsemeat imports: Interview with Elio Celotto
Today our team meets Elio Celotto at the entrance of the Meramist abattoir. He is the director of the Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses (CPR).
We ask Elio about the traceability system for horses in Australia. Elio explains that the only traceable horses are thoroughbred racehorses. Their traceability, however, is only guaranteed from the time they are born until they are retired from the racing industry. Afterwards, the horses can go anywhere, and no further records are kept. The CPR believes that the racing industry should track horses during their entire life span and that they should find permanent homes for these horses instead of sending them to slaughter, as they often do. The industry breeds from them, they profit from them, they should also be responsible for them.
When a foal is born, the stud often sells it to an individual person or to a syndicate made up of 10 to 100 shareholders. If a horse turns out to not be profitable, it is likely to be discarded and sent to slaughter and another horse will replace it.
Elio tells us that “wastage” is the term they use for horses that leave the industry prematurely. Unfortunately, this is the case for almost every single horse that is bred for racing. The average racing career of a racehorse is less than three years. Most of them commence racing at the age of two. By the age of five, most of them are spent and are often sent to slaughter. According to Elio, some horses will have raced only one or two weeks before slaughter, and almost certainly would had been given drugs. These drugs make their meat ineligible for human consumption.