Horse Slaughterhouse: USDA Opens Path for Horsemeat

    July 1, 2013
    David Powell
    Comments are off for this post.

Horse—It’s What’s for Dinner.

Is this the new trendy food item? Despite the fact that the UK was recently up in arms after it was discovered that some varieties of microwavable meals contained horsemeat, other countries are comfortable with the idea. Chefs in Paris have been putting it back on the menu in recent years.

And horse-meat could be on its way to American tables.

The USDA has just given approval for a New Mexico plant owned by Valley Meat Co. to slaughter horses for meat (the plant still has to undergo on-site inspection before it can sell the product). Similar applications have been made by plants in Missouri and Iowa.

Congress banned the domestic slaughter of horses in 2006, but the product is now again available to export. At present, approximately 130,000 horses per year are shipped abroad for slaughter (primarily to Mexico and Canada). The 2006 law currently at odds with the New Mexico plant’s “grant of inspection” (which had pulled funding for USDA inspections of horse plants, but had not outright forbidden horse slaughter) expired in 2011. If Valley Meat, and the companies following suit, are granted the right to slaughter domestically, export-for-slaughter could be expected to decline.

Since horses are not raised as food animals in the US, they are often given drugs that are banned for other livestock, making their food use (for humans or animals) questionable. Even so, this has not prevented export of horse meat in the past. Horse meat is sold for human consumption in many countries, including Mexico, China, and Russia. The world’s top three horse meat producing countries are China (1,700,000 metric tons), Mexico (626,000 metric tons), and Kazakhstan (340,000 metric tons). Mongolia, Argentina, Italy, Brazil, and Kyrgyzstan round out the top eight.

Currently, horse meat costs less than 25% of what beef costs.

And, just for cocktail party conversation: Western biases against the consumption of horse meat might stem from Pope Gregory III’s fight against the ritual consumption of horse in pagan practice in the early eighth century.

  • Erin

    I think I’ll pass if horse meat becomes a trend. So gross. Seriously, what kind of sick person would eat such a noble beast?

    • susan humphrey

      Horses arene’t any more or less noble than any other animal. Some people have horses they consider “pets,” but then it was a trend a few years ago to have pot-bellied pigs as pets. It didn’t seem to cause a decrease in pork chop sales. Last year alone 168,000 US horses went to Canada and Mexico to be slaughtered for human consumption. The closing of our horse processing plants didn’t slow it down, the horses just had a longer trailer ride without being under USDA regulations.

      • corrine wynne

        So you insult a person because they see horses as nobility? In some countries horses are family and our country is one. If you wish to say 160,000 went to slaughter unwanted. Let me help u on this. Some 10000 were stolen, 25000 were banned ra ehorses , the rest were animals bought from craigslist free or cheap with the decption of going to a good home. Also read about the overseas meat scandal…they wound up in beef, which means europeans didnt choose to eat 160000 horses, plus they took enough tonnes of meat with horse in it off the shelves that they actually pulled, threw away over 140000 of those animals. That is factual, read up before putting people down. The pro slaughter way, putting people down is ridiculous.

  • susan humphrey

    Horse meat is lower in fat and higher in protein than beef. Some horses are dangerous to ride or be around. Some have had injuries, are born with deformities of limb or develop arthritis. A horses needs to have sound legs and feet to be ridden. When horses get older their teeth wear down so they can’t eat as well. There needs to be an outlet for horses that are no longer wanted, otherwise they will end up next to the dogs and cats in the local pound. The USDA will be testing the meat to make sure there aren’t any drug residues. Performance horses may have been given drugs and will need to be kept out of the food chain until those medications leave their system.

    • corrine wynne

      So in your opinion if ypu cannot ride it. It dies. What small minded garbage. So you and your dog will be happy to eat this meat first to showeveryone its safe? If they are dangerous, which is usually just untrained it should be cut apart alive? We live within 3 miles of Dekalb plant. The stench, dead horse bodies, blood trickling out onto the road, men dragging horses on their sides with farm equipment. Broken legs, hooves torn off in trailers, all very horrible. They violated city regulations and avoided paying their fair share. It was the screams of terrified horses that made people,not bring their business to dekalb. This is ridiculous. You have such a polished well performed reason. Have you personally been to a,plant? They dont take old horses, those horses are slaughtered on the side oftge road and the bodies ldft laying behind because plant would refuse them. At mexico border they dumped them in the desert, 15000 horses le ft in the desertt by your precious pro slaughter industry. Thats been Proven as Fact by New,Mexico authorities. So put those horses to sleep by needle. They only use a diagram of the meats of the horses but they dont tell over 49 percent of the horse is thrownaway! We have to dispose of these animals, so they illegally render them into foodfiller for dogs and cats, we cant figure out why our pets die. Bute is a lethal drug to humans, just because FSIS Al said its safe….doesnt trump world wide prohibition of bute period. Get educated honey.

  • corrine wynne

    When proslaughter advocate Al at FSIS exposed himself as being pro slaughter recently in a conversation with Slaughterhouse Sue Wallis, it was a no brainer this would occur. He states meat is safe and theres withdrawal periods, however, Federally there is no withdrawal period,for bute, regumate, aspirin for horses, variations of cobra venom, several other products. So when one man in a government Food oversight agency is ProSlaughter and intentionally goes Against Federal Law its a sign of whats to come. Bute causes cancer in children, kills adults ghat are healthy. Was banned use in adults when they were dying from arithritis therapy from bute. Was banned from pet food for kinning dogss. Thats a Federal ban. They already admitted they will sell it to other countries for dog food then the dog food will be shipped to us which was Federally banned and will kill our,pets again. Pleass contact Congress we have had enough childhood cancers and pet food deaths in the USA, tell them support the safeguard americas food and export act stop slaughter of horses, protect our food and pet foods. Please call your congressmen andwomen immediately. Also sign the petition on change.org under animals. Petition to Overturn the Lehalization of the Slaughter of Horses for Human Consumption. Dont let them kill our children and our pets because they ignored the food safety laws.

    • susan humphrey

      It is obvious you are “under the influence” of the Special Interest Group propaganda. The HSUS and PETA have an agenda; they want the world to become vegans. The drug residue problem has been addresses by the FSIS. All drug residues leave the system eventually. The meat will be tested by the USDA. No one is going to be “forced” to eat horse meat. Your pet horses won’t be taken from you to be eaten. Horses that go for slaughter are horses that are sold as run-throughs at auction. They may have been riding horses at one time, but they are no longer wanted for that purpose. Riding horses bring a lot more money that a slaughter horse.

  • corrine wynne

    Please go to change org under animals look for petition to overturn the legalization of the slaughter of horses for human consumption

  • Tom Durfee

    AS Fire fighters die we cut funding to them and then fund horse slaughter.

    The U.S. Forest Service’s $2 billion-a-year firefighting budget – the government’s biggest – has been cut by 5 percent. Agency officials say that has meant 500 fewer firefighters and 50 fewer fire engines than last year. Just think of the 19 fire fighters that died, maybe if they had the funding that would be used to slaughter horses they would be alive today.