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How many were slaughtered in Italy in 2020? The numbers don't add up


The President of the horse protection association, Sonny Richichi: "Huge discrepancies between Vetinfo and Istat data"

In 2020, 30,000 horses were slaughtered in Italy. Or 20,000. It depends on which source the data are retrieved from: “Again this year we confirm the 'strangeness' of a system that does not provide a clear picture of how many horses and other equids ended up in a slaughterhouse in our country. This is an anomaly that we have been denouncing for years and that must be resolved through a clear and transparent registry system, which is currently lacking in Italy”, says Sonny Richichi, President of IHP, the first Italian association for the protection of horses. According to the data collected and analysed by the association, the Vetinfo portal, maintained by the Ministry of Health, reports that 30,859 horses were slaughtered in Italy in 2020, of which 13,008 originating from abroad.  IHP reports that according to Istat, the horses slaughtered were instead 20,169. “There’s a ‘gap’ of almost ten thousand animals – observes Richichi - The same conflicting trend which emerges from preceding years figures: according to Vetinfo, 37,313 horses were slaughtered in Italy in 2019, of which 13,877 from abroad. According to Istat, 22,575 animals were slaughtered that year.

“These huge discrepancies highlight the weakness of the horse identification and tracking system, a crack that helps make numerous breaches in the legislation concerning slaughter possible: in fact, also in 2020 several Italian Public Prosecutor's Office started criminal proceedings against persons suspected of sending animals to slaughterhouses that were not authorised for that purpose", adds the IHP President.

According to the association, another element that raises doubts about the effectiveness of the tracking system emerges from analysis of the data on imports of horsemeat: “According to the Ministry of Health, 19,333 tons of meat were imported to Italy in 2020, which represent around 38,667 animals, so about 8,000 more than those that, according to the same Ministry, were slaughtered in Italy during the year. The main countries supplying horsemeat to Italy are, in order: Poland, Romania, Spain and Belgium. The main Italian regions receiving imported horsemeat are, in order: Lombardy, Apulia, Piedmont and Veneto. The Ministry of Health states that Italy's only non-European partner in the supply of horsemeat is Argentina, and almost all the horsemeat imported to Italy is sent to Lombardy. Argentina has been the focus of independent investigations for years, showing the enormous suffering endured by the animals waiting to be slaughtered: reports and petitions, however, have not been sufficient to stop imports to Europe. The same consideration should be given to Belgium which, as mentioned above, appears to be one of the main suppliers of horsemeat to Italy: there is a strong suspicion that Belgium acts as a logistics hub for meat arriving from forced breeding facilities located in non-European countries, starting with Australia”, concludes Richichi.


TABELLA 1 - macellazioni di equidi in Italia nel 2020 (fonte: Ministero della Salute)


TABELLA 2 - macellazioni di equidi in Italia dal 2009 al 2020 (fonti: Ministero della Salute e Istat)


TABELLA 3 - importazioni di carni equine in Italia nel 2020: Paesi di provenienza (fonte: Ministero della Salute)


TABELLA 4 - importazioni di carni equine in Italia nel 2020: Regioni di arrivo (fonte: Ministero della Salute)



Slaughter of horses in Italy in 2019

Stop horsemeat imports: international petition