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Horses used in experiments end up in food chain

The latest horsemeat scandal from France shows the cavalier attitude to animals used in research and the sad way in which they are disposed of after they have served their purpose.

It has been reported this week that 60 horses who were used in experiments by French pharmaceutical giants Sanofi-Pasteur have ended up in the food supply chain after their veterinary papers were falsified. 1

The horses were used by the company for the production of biological materials (anti rabies, tetanus and snake venom serums). This is a regulated animal experiment because it involves repeatedly taking blood samples from the animals who may be kept for years for this purpose.

Sanofi has confirmed that they have sold about 200 horses in the past three years, who they have used for this purpose, to riding schools, veterinary schools and ‘individuals’. A spokesperson for the company said “Sanofi Pasteur condemns the fraud, of which it is also a victim, and is assisting authorities in the investigation”.2

So far, the French authorities have arrested 21 people, including vets, butchers and meat dealers who are thought to have been involved with the illegal trafficking of these horses. The meat has already been sold in butcher’s shops in France and Spain. Clearly Sanofi Pasteur also need to take greater care of the animals they have used and rehome them to safe homes, or better yet, develop alternatives so that they do not need to use horses in the first place.