Swiss stores pull meat over horse cruelty claims

Swiss supermarket chains removed horsemeat from store shelves following the broadcast of a TV documentary showing stark cases of cruelty on horse farms in the US, Canada, Argentina and Mexico, where the meat is sourced.

Swiss stores pull meat over horse cruelty claims
One of the images shown on the Zurich Humane Society's website. (

The Kassensturz public affairs program, broadcast on Tuesday night by German-language broadcaster SRF, showed images of emaciated, beaten and bloody horses, transported in cramped conditions without access to water.

The images were obtained by the Zurich Humane Society (TSB) which conducted an investigation into where retailers such as Migros, Coop, Aldi, Lidl, Volg and Spar obtained their horsemeat.

The result of the investigation “clearly shows the torment involved in the horsemeat production,” said York Ditffurth, TSB president said in a statement on the society’s website.

Swiss retailers import around 5,000 tons of horsemeat — 90 percent of that consumed in Switzerland — from foreign sources that are difficult to trace, the society said.

But the group managed to track down the suppliers and monitored the treatment of the horses, the food they received, in addition to their conditions of transport and slaughter.

The results showed that neither Swiss nor European Union standards were being maintained with horses lacking veterinary care, with sick and dying animals left to care for themselves, the society alleged.

The Kassensturz program showed images of brutal transport of horses from the US — where slaughterhouses no longer process horsemeat — to abattoirs in Canada and Mexico.

Most retailers immediately decided to stop selling horsemeat products, as a precaution until the facts about their origin are clarified.

Volg, Denner, Aldi, Spar and Lidl are no longer selling the products, SRF said.

Coop said it has withdrawn such products as dried horsemeat from its stores until its procurement policies can be met.  

But it is continuing to sell fresh horsemeat supplied from sources in France and Poland.

Migros has withdrawn some horsemeat products but said it continues to buy products from a Canadian supplier, for which it has full confidence.

The development is the latest wrinkle in a scandal that previously was confined in Switzerland to the mislabelling of frozen or prepared beef products that contained horsemeat.

It also raises further questions about supply chains for food retailers, manufacturers and distributors.

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Insects proposed for sale in Swiss supermarkets

Insects could be legally for sale in Swiss supermarkets starting next year after the federal food safety and veterinary office (BLV) proposed the commercialization of three species.

Insects proposed for sale in Swiss supermarkets
Photo: Fir0002/Flagstaffotos

The BLV on Monday backed the sale of crickets, grasshoppers and meal worms as part of a planned revision of Switzerland’s law governing foodstuff, the ATS news agency reported.

A consultation period on the proposal runs until October.

The BLV has limited the kind of approved insects to the three best known types, ATS said.

They are already authorized in small-scale pilot trials, such as during museum nights.

Last year the federal government had promised an opening up of insect sales after Green Liberal MP Isabelle Chevalley, from the canton of Vaud, organized a tasting event for fellow parliamentarians with food made from insects.

The menu included burgers made from a base of mealworms, rissoles made with crickets, small chocolate biscuits made from grasshopper and lemon cake made from meal worms.

The feedback was largely positive.

In the European Union, edible insects have not been officially recognized, although stores in some EU countries, such as Holland and Belgium have been selling them.