Vince Gareffa of Mondi Di Carne gourmet butchers is believed to be the first butcher to begin selling horse meat for human consumption in the country.
After being granted a licence by the WA Minister for Agriculture and Food Terry Redman, Mr Gareffa opened up his Perth shop on Tuesday with fresh horse meat for sale.
Although he said “mentally I find it quite a hurdle”, the butcher urged Australians to open their minds, declaring the product is no different from the meat of other animals slaughtered for consumption.
“We’ve got so many horses running in the wild, and we kill camels, we kill kangaroos, we kill emus,” Mr Gareffa told AAP.
“There’s no way in the world it’s any different. It just does happens to be more emotional. (As pet) dogs become an emotional thing, horses are an emotional thing.
“But the cows, the sheep, the pigs, the chickens are sick of it.
They’re sick of the racism against certain breeds of animal.”
In approving the slaughter of horses for human consumption in Australia, Mr Redman attached strict conditions including the presence of a WA Meat Industry Authority inspector during processing.
According to the federal department of agriculture, between 30,000 and 40,000 horses are slaughtered every year for pet food and human consumption overseas.
Horse meat is served as sashimi in Japan, as sausages in Kazakhstan, smoked and sliced in the Netherlands, and offered in specialised butchers across France.
About 20 per cent of the horses slaughtered in Australia are wild. However, the animals whose meat Mr Gareffa has sourced were grown in WA and “no longer wanted by their owners and were heading to the pet factory”.
The horse meat Mr Gareffa is selling will be aimed at ethnic groups who have resorted to sourcing it illegally and buying pet food, which he said could be full of steroids, drugs or disease.
“That’s not only disastrous for the public, to be in a position to take risks on their own lives. How come we’re allowing that sort of meat to get to our pets?” he said.
“I don’t believe that clients that I have met over the years deserve to be continuously trying to deal in illegal activities to get something that we’re selling to the rest of the world.”
Mr Gareffa did not expect the horse meat to be a big seller, but said it would provide the ethnic community with choice.