HORSE owners in Worcestershire are being urged to take part in a survey on horse passports, which were introduced in 2005 after an EU directive aimed at ensuring animals destined for the food chain were drug-free.

The plan is to clean-up a system campaigners claim is chaotic and subject to widespread abuse.

The Equine Sector Council is appealing to as many horse owners as possible to complete the questionnaire, which follows Defra withdrawing funding for the National Equine Database last September.

Lee Hackett, senior executive (welfare) of the British Horse Society, said: “Tracing horses is now far more difficult and we have no way of knowing where horses are if there was to be an outbreak of an exotic disease. The recent horsemeat scandals have only served to further highlight passport issues.”

After its introduction eight years ago, the horse passport system was strengthened in 2009 by the addition of a requirement that all foals should be micro-chipped as an additional safety measure.

The survey is at