Sunday, February 19, 2012
A shortage of horse meat
The shortage can be attributed to government restrictions such as ensuring horses have a certificate that confirms the animals haven’t been injected with non-permitted drugs in the past six months before coming across the border.
“We’re not getting as much as we’d like,” said Shamez Amlani, co-owner of La Palette on Queen St. W, a French restaurant that offers horse meat on its menu. “Our supplier has limited supply because (the government) is applying very strict standards in what they’re getting in. If they’re not seeing proper papers and certificates, then they’re not processing the animals.”
To make it tougher for horses to get into Canada, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency announced — effective Jan. 1 — shipments of American horses destined for Canadian abattoirs can only enter Canada at border crossings, including three in Ontario.
Only Windsor, Sarnia and Niagara Falls/Queenston ports will accept slaughter-bound horses in Ontario.
“When we want to get three tenderloins a week, we’re only getting one. We have it in supply, but we’re getting less of it than we were used to before,” Amlani said. “There’s a lot of controversy around the meat. But at the same time, I’m confident you’re getting food that’s much safer food than other foods in the mainstream.”
Supply aside, Amlani said their horse tenderloin, which sells for $40 with side dishes, is an acquired taste.
“We’re a niche restaurant and we do things very differently than other restaurants,” he said. “We’re recreating a piece of Europe in the city of Toronto. We have a cult following because we were the first place in the city to serve it.”
Much of the horse meat processed in Canada is exported to Europe and Asia, although there is a small domestic market for the product in Quebec. The top importers of Canadian horse meat in 2010 were France, Japan, Mexico and Switzerland.
The industry is worth an estimated $60-million annually in Canada.
Over 1 billion people, or 16% of the world population, eat horse meat, according to Horse Welfare Alliance of Canada.