Social Science

A comparative survey of veterinarians, equine owners, and equine keepers regarding the knowledge and implementation of legal requirements in Germany for the use and documentation of veterinary medicines in equines intended for slaughter.

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Doi: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0283371

2023-04-25

Abstract

In Europe, equines destined for human consumption (hereafter called slaughter equines) are subject to the same restrictions of usage of veterinary drugs as other food-producing animals, with amendments regulated in the so-called 'positive list', Regulation (EC) No. 1950/2006. Due to the complex legal requirements for drug administration in slaughter equines, it might be that specific knowledge regarding the legislation of slaughter equines may be insufficient among veterinarians, equine owners, and equine keepers. To study this assumption, three target group-specific surveys were conducted in 2021. Answers from 153 equine treating veterinarians, 170 equine owners, and 70 equine keepers were included in the analysis. In total 68.4% (91/133) of the participating veterinarians, the regulations of the 'positive list', Regulation (EC) No. 1950/2006, were 'rather complicated' to 'complicated'. Among the participating veterinarians, 38.4% (58/151) did not or could not answer correctly how to proceed if a slaughter equine is scheduled to receive phenylbutazone, usage of which is prohibited in all livestock by Regulation (EU) No. 37/2010. Simultaneously, 56.2% (86/153) of the participating veterinarians named phenylbutazone as the, or one of the, most often used non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Altogether, 41.2% (70/170) of participating equine owners and 42.9% (30/70) of equine keepers did not know under which circumstances an equine can legally be slaughtered for human consumption. In total, 34.3% (24/70) of the equine keepers classified their knowledge of national regulations for animal keepers regarding the documentation of drug usage in equines as 'poor' to 'nonexistent'. This lack of knowledge in all three surveyed groups, combined with the complex legal regulations regarding the usage and documentation of drugs in slaughter equines, could result in missing and false documentation, treatment of slaughter equines with prohibited substances and therefore pose a risk factor for drug residues in equine meat.