Princess Anne horsemeat comments spark debate


Princess Anne was speaking to the annual conference of the charity, World Horse Welfare, of which she is the president

Related Stories

Animal welfare charities have welcomed Princess Anne's suggestion that horse welfare could be improved by putting horsemeat on sale in UK supermarkets.

She claimed owners might take better care of their horses if they believed they could sell them for meat.

The Princess Royal made her remarks in a speech to the charity World Horse Welfare, of which she is president.

It comes as charities warn of a horse welfare "crisis", with 7,000 at risk of abandonment and neglect this winter.

They said a fuller debate was needed.

'Real market'

Earlier this year the discovery of horse DNA in processed food products on sale at UK and Irish Republic supermarkets sparked a major scandal.

Horsemeat consumption in EU

It resulted in a series of product recalls and threw the spotlight on the food industry's supply chain, testing procedures and food labelling.

In the speech, on Thursday, Princess Anne suggested British attitudes towards eating horsemeat may have to change.

"Should we be considering a real market for horsemeat and would that reduce the number of welfare cases, if there was a real value in the horsemeat sector?" said the former eventing champion.

"I chuck that out for what it's worth because I think it needs a debate."

Jeanette Allen, head of the Horse Trust, who attended the speech, said the princess raised an interesting point.

"Farming is something we find culturally acceptable in this country but it just so happens that as a culture we haven't embraced horses being part of that livestock - but other cultures have," she said.

Horse cuts Butchers in France offer cuts of horsemeat similar to those offered in the UK for beef

"It's an interesting question and once we've had the debate we may well decide as a culture that we're still not interested in doing that but that doesn't mean the question isn't interesting to ask."

She said there were about 7,000 horses in the UK "at risk of suffering some serious neglect over this coming winter".

The value of those animals commercially was as little as £5-£10, she said.

When asked if she would eat horsemeat, Ms Allen said she was "personally squeamish about it, although I am a meat-eater".

"I have no rationality for that at all... What I care about in the meat I choose to eat is the welfare standard of the farming process and the abattoir process before it reaches my table," she added.

'Neglected and abused'

Jenny MacGregor, chairwoman of the Society for the Welfare of Horses and Ponies, said the princess was "brave" for starting the debate because it was likely to prove controversial.

She said she believed the prospect of horsemeat becoming a staple in Britain was "realistic" - and even essential given the number of cases of neglect and abuse UK charities were seeing each day.

Nutritional facts

A butcher preparing meat

Horsemeat contains essential amino acids and polyunsaturated fats that help to reduce cholesterol.

Compared with other types of meat, it contains greater quantities of trace elements: calcium, phosphorus, iron, sodium, copper, magnesium, silicon, zinc and nickel.

It is rich in group B, A, PP and E vitamins.

Source: United Nations Economic Commission for Europe

If the value of horses was raised, with the meat market in mind, owners would take better care of their animals, she said.

"Princess Anne has come up with something practical which, in the long run, will be of great value," she said.

Roly Owers, of World Horse Welfare, said the charity's view was that while a horse or pony was alive, it should be treated with care and compassion.

"That is the core issue... We are in the grip of a UK equine crisis and we need to look at all options of solving that," he said.

He warned that owners who chose to put their animal into the human food chain should "not be castigated for it". About 10,000 horses from the UK went into the human food chain last year, he said.

The RSPCA said it welcomed any debate into the "growing problems" surrounding horse welfare which it had "very grave concerns" about.

"Our centres, and those of other charities, are overflowing with horses which have been abandoned, neglected and abused and we are struggling to keep up with the demands for our help," a spokeswoman said.

The charity said the killing of horses for meat was "an emotive subject", a sentiment the RSPCA had sympathy with.

But it said its primary concern was that they were cared for and that they were slaughtered in a humane way.


More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 69.

    I understand what she is saying but I just don't see horses having any value. In this country we just don't (knowingly) eat meat from OLD animals. Most of our animals are slaughtered at a few months old. I wouldn't want to buy horse any more than I'd want to by meat from a dried up cow.

  • rate this

    Comment number 68.

    i know this is taking the argument even further, but...abandoned dogs and cats?

    "Soylent brown, soylent brown is HORSES!!"

  • rate this

    Comment number 67.

    I have horse steaks, they were lovely.

  • rate this

    Comment number 66.

    Obviously there's a debate to be had, including the schools of "practicality versus sentimentality", but meanwhile we shouldn't lose sight of the fact that cruelty must be punished.

  • rate this

    Comment number 65.

    Let's wait until Tesco and the other supermarkets are given record fines for selling counterfeit goods.

    Horse welfare is important, but let's not forget that the public have been victims of fraud on a massive scale involving horse meat.

  • rate this

    Comment number 64.

    Fantastic point well made

  • rate this

    Comment number 63.

    @25 - sorry, which Iceland?

    " moodymuppet wrote:
    My son was recently in Iceland and even though he is a keen horseman and works at his sisters stables was quite happy to try the horse meat curry which he said was really nice."

  • rate this

    Comment number 62.

    With the world's population spiralling out of control, and with China lifting their ban in single-child families we will need to source protein from wherever we can get it. Horsemeat will seem entirely conventional in a few years when we're all being encouraged to eat insects as a cheap source of mass protein.

    Forget turkey twizzlers... termite twizzlers are the next big thing!

  • rate this

    Comment number 61.

    The best maintained animals, are those that we eat. They even have better overcrowding regulations than humans do in UK.

    In England, people used to eat badgers, in fact anything they could get their hands on, during famine, even used to eat humans.

    Is it better to cull badgers & burn them, or eat them.

    Its a funny world, & UK is often more cruel & wasteful than elsewhere

  • rate this

    Comment number 60.

    It's only a matter of whose opinions we are looking at. The Hindus don't eat beef and we do, Muslims don't eat pork, but we do, the Chinese love to eat dog meat and even more so dog penis, but we don't. The French eat slugs and even we do often and the list can go on.
    We don't generally eat horse meat, but who says we should not.

  • rate this

    Comment number 59.

    I've eaten rabbit, and although i don't like it, it is still on sale. Same goes for horsemeat, its not my cup of tea but if people want to eat, let them!

  • rate this

    Comment number 58.

    never mind horses there are two many dogs and cats roaming around this country. talk about putting them down and there is up roar sort them out first . sick of them

  • rate this

    Comment number 57.

    My objections earlier in the year were that some companies were totally unaware of what was in the food they sold, meaning it could have been rat, cat or horse, tainted with ketamine or anything else.

    Food security is the issue. For me personally, eating horse is not a problem and I agree with HRH

  • rate this

    Comment number 56.

    I just dont like spagetti bolog neighs

    @39 Nope its not the same - they dont give Bute to sheep etc. As the vast majority of horses are recreational animals in the UK owners spend money with vets so many that get up down are full of medication unsuitable for human consumption. Are you happy with the quality control in the slaughterhouses. I'm not.

  • rate this

    Comment number 55.

    You can care about animal welfare or you can eat them, not both. There' s no nutritional need for any animal product -we eat them for pleasure only.

    Anyone who eats an animal product does so because they think their pleasure is worth a miserable life and early death for a thinking, feeling creature.

    57bn land animals immiserated and dead per year -for our pleasure.

  • rate this

    Comment number 54.

    She's right. Nothing wrong with horse meat as long as it's not illegally mixed & clearly labelled. Well done Princess Anne for bring it into debate.

  • rate this

    Comment number 53.

    During WWI and WWII, as rationing made it more difficult for families to find beef, British butchers across the country sold horse meat, and consumers literally ate it up. Hence the saying 'so hungry I could eat a horse'. Fortunately we now no longer live in such desperate times, but it would appear that horses are now suffering for our food richness; most of which we throw away unconsummed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 52.

    I've always admired the Princess Royal and these comments have only reinforced my admiration for her. Whilst others are pussyfooting around with this subject, HRH is saying what's on her mind. I've eaten horsemeat in France, (Mainly because I wanted to see what all the fuss was about), and I can't wait for it to come on sale here.

  • Comment number 51.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 50.

    I agree with Anne
    It's about time the horse & pony community stopped treating these animals as deity's.
    The horse is just another food source at the end of the day and should be treated as such,
    I hold the same view over dogs and cats ,push come to shove they would be on the menu


Page 43 of 46


More UK stories



BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.