The Zurich Humane Society (TSB) this week maintained that Swiss retailers continue to source horsemeat from Canadian meatpackers who obtain horses from Mexico, Argentina and Uruguay that have been mistreated.
The animals, often sick, wounded and weak, are transported for days in cramped quarters without any access to care, Sabrina Gurtner, TSB spokeswoman told the Tages-Anzeiger newspaper.
The animals end up in Canadian abbatoirs Viande Richelieu, which provides horsemeat for the Aldi supermarket chain, and Bouvry Exports, which sells it to wholesaler Skin Packing, a company that provides horsemeat for Denner, Migros, Spar and Avec.
A year ago, TSB released the results of its investigation into the horsemeat industry to the Kassensturz public affairs programme aired by German-language TV broadcaster SRF.
The Kassensturz programme showed images of brutal transport of horses from the US — where slaughterhouses no longer process horsemeat — to abbatoirs in Canada and Mexico.
The program also showed pictures of emaciated, beaten and bloody horses, transported without access to water in inhumane conditions.
Following the broadcast, Swiss retailers, including Denner, pulled horsemeat from their shelves but the policy was only temporary.
Before long, many stores starting selling the horsemeat again.
Swiss retailers annually import around 5,000 tons of horsemeat, around 90 percent of what is consumed in Switzerland, TSB said last year.
After the animal group’s latest charges, Denner announced that it would wait for the introduction of a new certification system for horsemeat and new standards that meet Swiss animal protection laws before returning horsemeat to its aisles.