04. March 2020

Australia | Caboolture, Queensland | Horsemeat imports: Meramist abattoir

Electric shocks to the anus are routine (photo: confidential source).

A horse is dragged into the stunning box using a cable winch (photo: confidential source).

After being bolted in the head, the horse kicks and jerks in agonising pain (photo: confidential source).

A worker cuts off the nostrils before the horse is dead (photo: confidential source).

A horse standing in the raceway has a severe, untreated wound (photo: confidential source).

Our team receives footage and an analysis of an undercover investigation at the Meramist abattoir. Today we meet with an informant who must remain anonymous for safety reasons. Covert cameras recorded the activities at the Meramist abattoir on 22 randomly selected slaughter days over a period of two years. Up to eight cameras documented the passage of the horses from the pen area, through the raceway and stunning box to the slaughter hall.

The covert footage of the slaughter process shows the brutal handling of the horses by the staff. The workers are observed beating and kicking the horses, slamming gates on them, shouting at them, and systematically using electric shocks to move them forward. The shocks are also applied to the anus of the horses. Moreover, their fear is aggravated by their ability to see the slaughter room. Horses fallen in the raceway are dragged to the place of slaughter with a winch, instead of being killed where they lie. Some horses are tortured for several minutes by incorrect stunning and repeated bolting, up to five times. No back-up equipment is used in case of stunning failure and repeated reloading of the captive bolt unnecessarily prolongs the suffering of the horses. The stunning success is not regularly checked, and some horses are still showing signs of consciousness when they are hoisted and bled out. Furthermore, employees often make cuts to the horses’ heads immediately after the beginning of bleeding. At this point, the horses are still alive, since they have not yet died from cardiovascular failure. These are not individual cases: this is systematic torture.

Racehorses can be easily identified by their brands. At a minimum, 56.6 % of the horses had brands of thoroughbred or standardbred racehorses. The data collected suggests that Meramist alone may slaughter approximately 5,000 racehorses per year.