USDA Moves Closer to Approving Horse Slaughter Plant in U.S.

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Despite concerns that it may be setting the stage for an eventual American version of the current European horsemeat contamination and substitution scandal, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) last week took steps that could lead to the opening of the first equine slaughterhouse in the U.S. since 2007. That’s when Congress, responding to animals rights advocates, outlawed horse slaughtering by barring USDA from spending any money on horsemeat inspection. Since then, 662,969 U.S. horses have been shipped to Mexico, Canada and Japan for slaughter. In 2012 alone, 110,202 horses were shipped to Mexico, 59,812 to Canada, and 6,209 (a record high) to Japan. 


After the Humane Society of the U.S. documented the inhumane conditions to which exported horses were subjected in foreign abattoirs, Congress decided to allow domestic horse slaughtering again, rather than banning the export of horses for slaughter, as the Humane Society wanted. As AllGov previously reported, the Valley Meat Company of Roswell, New Mexico, sued USDA and its Food Safety and Inspection Service late last year to force the government to provide horsemeat inspection services, and last week the government indicated that it would conduct an inspection within two months.


In addition to concerns regarding the lack of humaneness of horse slaughter and many people’s emotional attachment to equines, there is ample evidence that U.S. horsemeat is not a healthful meat to eat. In the U.S., horses are not raised for slaughter, so horsemeat is made predominantly from former race horses and work horses, which are routinely treated with medications harmful to humans, including the anti-inflammatory phenylbutazone, a known carcinogen that has been found in horsemeat, despite an FDA ban on its administration to any horse sent to slaughter for human consumption.

-Matt Bewig


To Learn More:

U.S.D.A. May Approve Horse Slaughtering (by Stephanie Strom, New York Times)

Slaughter of U.S. Horses Soars as Horse Meat Scandal Explodes (by Equine Welfare Alliance, Desert Independent)

Meat Company Sues U.S. Government for Right to Open First New Horse Slaughterhouse in 6 Years (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


anonymouse 11 years ago
We are eating our own young, why not horses?

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