U.S. horse meat is dangerous to humans because of the unregulated administration of numerous toxic substances to horses before slaughter. EU authorities made the decision after a series of scathing audits that exposed a plethora of problems, including the lack of traceability of American horses and horrific suffering on U.S. soil and in Mexico.
The USDA has no system in place to track horses lifetime medical histories, and the reputation of the entire U.S. meat industry is at risk. Testing random samples of horse meat overlooks the fact that every single horse has a unique, unknown past.
The USDA documented that 92.3 percent of horses sent to slaughter are in good condition and are able to live out a productive life. A 2012 national poll found that 80 percent of Americans support banning horse slaughter for human consumption.
The last three horse slaughter plants in the U.S. offered only a few low-income, dangerous jobs that did nothing to bolster local economies. For example, in 2005, the City Council of Kaufman, Texas, home to the Dallas Crown facility, voted unanimously to implement termination proceedings against the plant.
Any minimal financial contributions of horse slaughter facilities are vastly outweighed by the enormous economic and development-suppressing burden they present. Up to 30 attacks have been reported in France, from the mountainous Jury region in the east to the Atlantic coast, many this summer, the agriculture minister said Friday.
“We are excluding nothing,” Agriculture Minister Julien Denormalize said Friday on France-Info, before heading to a riding club in the Maine-et-Loire region, in east-central France, where a horse was attacked a day earlier. Today, I have fear in my gut,” Nicolas Demean, who runs the refuge, Ranch of Hope,” said Thursday on regional TV station France 3.
He himself was injured in the arm in a struggle with one intruder wielding a pruning knife as the other slashed the sides of two ponies, now recovering but “traumatized,” he said. A donkey who reportedly participated in the past in the Christmas market in Paris was killed in a gruesome attack in June.
Speculation is widespread as to how barbaric acts, some surgical, could be perpetrated without solid knowledge of equine anatomy or on a horse in a pasture presumably able to flee. The horse who feels confident with people … he’ll come, find it normal that you put a harness on it or a rope around its neck,” said veterinarian Aide Giraud, chief of the equine division at the prestigious National Veterinary School of Alford, outside Paris.
An ear can be slashed off while the horse is standing, but the animal would need to be prostate for grislier mutilations, she said. The veterinarian stressed that she didn’t want to describe how to put a horse on the ground so as not to “give the least sort of tools to make it easier” for those out to kill them.
“We’re all afraid,” said Veronique Duping, an official of a riding club in the Felines region west of Paris, asking that the exact location of the stable not be identified out of caution. Humans have long consumed horse meat; the oldest known cave art, the 30,000-year-old paintings in France's Chavez Cave, depict horses with other wild animals hunted by humans.
Equine domestication is believed to have begun to raise horses for human consumption. The practice has become controversial in some parts of the world due to several concerns: whether horses are (or can be) managed humanely in industrial slaughter; whether horses not raised for consumption yield safe meat, and whether it is appropriate to consume what some view as a companion animal.
Horse-meat production (2009) Country Tons per year Mexico 78,000 Argentina 57,000 Kazakhstan 55,000 Mongolia 38,000 Kyrgyzstan 25,000 United States 25,000 Australia 24,000 Brazil 21,000 Canada 18,000 Poland 18,000 Italy 16,000* Romania 14,000 Chile 10,000 France 7,500 Uruguay 8,000 Senegal 9,500 Colombia 6,000 Spain 5,000* * Includes donkeys Directions for positioning bolt gun to ensure swift humane death of animal In most countries where horses are slaughtered for food, they are processed in industrial abattoirs similarly to cattle. Typically, a penetrating captive bolt gun or gunshot is used to render the animal unconscious.
The blow (or shot) is intended to kill the horse instantly or stun it, with exsanguination (bleeding out) conducted immediately afterwards to ensure death. Salable meat is removed from the carcass, with the remains rendered for other commercial uses.
According to equine-welfare advocates, the physiology of the equine cranium is such that neither the penetrating captive bolt gun nor gunshots are reliable means of killing (or stunning) a horse; the animal may be only paralyzed. Unless properly checked for vital signs, a horse may remain conscious and experience pain during skinning and butchering.
Horse meat was a traditional protein source during food shortages, such as the early-20th-century World Wars. Before the advent of motorized warfare, campaigns usually resulted in tens of thousands of equine deaths; troops and civilians ate the carcasses, since troop logistics were often unreliable.
Troops of Napoleon's Grande Armée killed almost all of their horses during their retreat from Moscow to feed themselves. In his biography, Fifty Years a Veterinary Surgeon, Fredrick Hob day wrote that when his British Army veterinary field hospital arrived in Ceremony from France in 1916 it was the subject of a bidding war (won by Milanese horse-meat manners) for salvageable equine carcasses.
During World War II, the less-motorized Axis troops lost thousands of horses in combat and during the unusually-cold Russian winters. Malnourished soldiers consumed the animals, often shooting weaker horses as needed.
This perception may be greater in countries where horses are not bred or raised for food. Several equine and animal-welfare organizations oppose slaughter or support a ban on horse slaughter, but other animal organizations and animal-agriculture groups support the practice.
According to livestock-slaughter expert Temple Gran din, horse slaughter can be humane with proper facility design and management. Included in animal-agriculture groups supporting horse slaughter are organizations representing the interests of traditional food-animal industries such as cattle, sheep and pigs, who are concerned that banning any animal for slaughter will lead to outlawing all meat production.
Stolen horses have been sold to auctions, where they are bought by “kill buyers” and shipped to slaughter. Auctions enable horses to be sold without owner consent, by theft or misappropriation.
In 2013, 32,841 horses were slaughtered in Italy; of these, 32,316 were transported from other EU states. The numbers peaked in 2012, but significantly decreased the following year due to stricter regulations put in place after the 2013 horse meat scandal in Europe.
Nearly all equine medications and treatments are labeled, “Not for horses intended for human consumption.” Meat from American horses raises a number of potential health concerns, primarily due to the routine use of medications banned in food animals and a lack of tracking of such use.
During November and December 2010 inspections of EU-regulated plants in Mexico which slaughtered horses for human consumption, the European Commission Food and Veterinary Office (FAO) uncovered violations. Most American horses destined for slaughter are transported to EU-regulated plants in Mexico and Canada.
Before 2007, three major equine slaughterhouses operated in the United States: Dallas Crown in Kaufman, Texas ; Belted Corporation in Fort Worth, and Cave International in DeKalb, Illinois. The slaughterhouses exported about $42 million in horse meat annually, with most going overseas.
The two Texas horse-slaughter plants were ordered closed in 2007, after protracted battles with local municipalities who objected to their financial drain on the municipalities (no tax revenue), ditches of blood, dismembered foals and noxious odors in residential neighborhoods. Later that year, the Cave plant was closed after local community action.
In March 2012, Wyoming state Representative Sue Wallis proposed a new horse-meat processing plant in Missouri or Arkansas. According to Wallis, she had six million dollars to invest and support from Belgian horse-meat buyers.
In May Wallis sought local investors in Wyoming to help finance the plant, which she said could cost between two and six million dollars and would process up to 200 horses a day for sale abroad and to ethnic markets in the US. In 2013 the Obama Administration proposed the removal of funding for USDA inspection of horse-slaughter plants in the 2014 fiscal year, which would prevent horse slaughter.
Efforts have been made to create a federal law ending the slaughter of American horses for human consumption. On September 8, 2006, the House of Representatives passed a bill which would have made killing or selling American horses for human consumption illegal in the United States; however, it was not passed by the Senate.
503 in the House and S. 1915 in the Senate, were introduced in the 109th Congress to prevent the slaughter of horses for human consumption. The latter was introduced on July 9, 2011, by Senators Mary Handrail (D-LA) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) to amend the Horse Protection Act of 1970 (15 U.S.C.ch.
44) to prohibit the shipping, transporting, moving, delivering, receiving, possessing, purchasing, selling, or donation of horses and other equines to be slaughtered for human consumption. A 1998 USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service survey to determine welfare problems during equine transport to slaughter found severe problems in 7.7 percent of the transported horses ; most arose from owner neglect or abuse, rather than transportation.
The report recommended fining individuals who transport horses unfit for travel. The highest fines imposed were $230,000.00 on Charles Carter of Colorado, $162,000 on Leroy Baker of Ohio and $77,825 on Bill Richardson of Texas.
A 2007–2015 investigation by Animals' Angels found overcrowded pens, aggression, rough handling, transport with no rest, untreated injuries and no water or food for more than the 28 hours required by law. On February 22, 2007, Representative Robert Molar introduced HB1711 to the Illinois General Assembly to prohibit the transport of horses into the state for the sole purpose of slaughter for human consumption.
US Department of Agriculture regulations govern the transportation of horses, but the USDA has said that it does not have the resources for enforcement. In 2009, a bill which would have prohibited the interstate transport of live horses in double-deck horse trailers passed out of committee in the House of Representatives and was placed on the Union Calendar.
On November 18, 2011, the ban on the slaughter of horses for meat was lifted as part of the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2012. However, it was reestablished by Congress on January 14, 2014, with the passage of the Fiscal Year 2014 Omnibus Appropriations Act.
On March 12, 2013, Senators Handrail and Graham introduced S. 541, the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act of 2013. The SAFE Act amends the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to deem equine (horses and other members of the family Equine) parts an unsafe food additive or animal drug.
Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans overturned a lower court's 2006 ruling that a 1949 Texas law banning horse slaughter for the purpose of selling the meat for food was invalid because it had been repealed by another statute and was preempted by federal law. A panel of three 5th Circuit judges disagreed, saying that the Texas law still stood and was enforceable.
A smaller number of products also contained other undeclared meats, such as pork. The issue came to light on January 15, 2013, when it was reported that equine DNA had been discovered in frozen beefburgers sold at several Irish and British supermarkets.
^ Early Domestication of Horse Archived 2012-12-02 at the Payback Machine, Lilian Lam, Swarthier College Environmental Studies, retrieved May 9, 2012 ^ p. 21. ^ Argentina-Horse Meat world production figures Archived 2013-02-15 at the Payback Machine, Farming UK, January 17, 2009.
Archived 2011-12-11 at the Payback Machine Meat Trade News Daily, 06 Oct 2009. In 2009, a British agriculture industry website reported the listed horse meat production levels in various countries.
^ Use of the 'Penetrating Captive Bolt' As A Means Of Rendering Equines Insensible For Slaughter Violates The Humane Slaughter Act Of 1958 Archived 2012-04-13 at the Payback Machine, Manes and Tails Organization, retrieved May 10, 2012 ^ Horse Slaughter Images and Description Archived 2012-10-15 at the Payback Machine, Into' Fund for Horses, retrieved May 10, 2012 ^ Canadians: Act Now to Ban Horse Slaughter! Archived 2012-05-19 at the Payback Machine, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, retrieved May 10, 2012, ^ Mayhew, Henry, London Labor and the London Poor: Volume II, Dover Publications (1968), Paperback ISBN 0-486-21935-6, page 7–9.
^ “Horse slaughter–its ethical impact and subsequent response of the veterinary profession”. “Answering Questions about Animal Welfare during Horse Slaughter”.
^ Rhapsody vanishes into ether of slaughter market, The Topeka Capital-Journal, October 15, 2011, archived from the original on 2011-11-29, retrieved 2011-11-27 ^ Kill buyer once arrested in Maria, now on the run from more charges, The Big Bend Sentinel, September 15, 2011, archived from the original on 2012-04-24, retrieved 2011-11-27 The Facts on Horse Slaughter, The Humane Society of the United States, January 25, 2010, archived from the original on 2011-11-28, retrieved 2011-11-29 Horse Slaughter Facts and FAQs, Animal Welfare Institute, archived from the original on 2012-01-15, retrieved 2011-11-29 ^ “Facts and figures on the EU horse meat trade”. “Over 6,500 horses were slaughtered in Ireland for human consumption last year”.
^ Horsebackmagazine.com “In a report filed by the FAO (Food and Veterinary Office), a number of serious violations and actions taken were cited, including these noted by Animals’ Angels. Two out of five establishments failed to meet EU requirements relating to slaughter hygiene and water quality.
Additionally, there were non-traceable carcasses, a number of which were in contact with EU eligible horse meat. Random samples were taken from horse meat processed in 2008, 2009 and 2010 tested positive for EU prohibited drug residues.
Sworn statements made by horse owners on veterinary medical treatment histories were not authenticated and proven false, including cases of positive results for EU prohibited drug residues. From January and October 2010, of the 62,560 US horses shipped to slaughter 5,336 were rejected at the border due to advanced pregnancy, health problems or injuries.
^ “White House proposes move to block horse slaughter”. ^ Bill Summary & Status : 109th Congress (2005–2006) : H.R.503 : All Congressional Actions with Amendments.
^ S.1176 Archived 2012-11-06 at the Payback Machine, June 9, 2011, Government Printing Office. ^ Dr. Temple Gran din: Survey of Trucking Practices and Injury to Slaughter Horses Archived 2007-04-15 at the Payback Machine.
^ “Congress Reinstates Annual Ban on Horse Slaughter”. ^ Belted CORPORATION; DALLAS CROWN, INC., v. TIM CURRY, District Attorney Tarrant County, 05-11499 (January 19, 2007).
^ “Federal Court of Appeals Affirms Ruling Declaring Horse Slaughter Illegal in Texas”. ^ “Cameron tells supermarkets: horse meat burger scandal unacceptable”.