Equine slaughter plants whose meat is destined for human consumption must meet the requirements set out in detailed EU regulations relating to food safety and animal health and welfare. Primary responsibility for compliance with these regulatory requirements rests, in the first instance, with the food business operators. There are currently two such equine slaughtering plants in operation in Ireland and slaughter activities at both plants are supervised by my Department.
The slaughter process and the handling of animals going to slaughter takes place under strictly supervised conditions. My Department has a permanent presence in each of the slaughter plants under its supervision and Department staff, with the assistance of temporary veterinary inspectors engaged on a contract basis, carry out regular checks as part of official regulatory controls. In addition, each slaughter establishment has a qualified animal welfare officer who oversees the welfare of the animals at the time of slaughter.