Animal Welfare Groups to New Mexico Regulators: Horsemeat May Be a Risk to Human Health


HSUS / April 2, 2013

The Humane Society of the United States, Front Range Equine Rescue Petition State Board to Declare Horsemeat Unfit for Human Consumption

images-9(April 2, 2013)—The Humane Society of the United States and Front Range Equine Rescue filed a legal petition with the New Mexico Environmental Improvement Board requesting that it adopt a rule that renders any horse “unqualified” for use as food for human consumption. The petition states that horses are different than traditional food animals because Americans generally do not raise horses as food, and horses are often treated during their lifetimes with drugs that are banned by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and/or potentially dangerous to humans.

These substances—to which virtually all American horses have been exposed—create the potential for great danger to humans if they are eaten, including cancer, life-threatening autoimmune diseases, and other illnesses. The petition alleges that the only way to protect the food supply and the consuming public is for the Board to declare horse meat to be unqualified, unless the slaughterhouse (or its agent) receiving or buying the horse can unequivocally demonstrate that the horses have not ever received substances prohibited for use in food animals.

Jonathan Lovvorn, senior vice president of animal protection litigation for The HSUS, said: “The killer-buyers who acquire horses for slaughter from random sources typically have no concern or knowledge about the horses’ prior history before shipping them off to inhumane deaths in slaughter facilities. Slaughtering horses in New Mexico would not only put horses through a gruesome and traumatic death, but it would put consumers at risk of consuming tainted meat.”

Hilary Wood, president of Front Range Equine Rescue, said:  “American horses are generally not raised for human consumption, and horse owners give them a variety of medications and products making them unfit for consumption. Horse slaughter does nothing to eliminate the abandonment or abuse of horses; in fact, it allows for increased cruelty as no horse can be humanely slaughtered.”

The requested action is especially timely because in November 2011, Congress authorized the inspection of horses for slaughter in the United States, something that had been prohibited since 2006. Last month, the Obama administration agreed to process an application for inspecting horse slaughter at Valley Meat Company LLC in Roswell, N.M.

Businesses looking to start American horse slaughterhouses have been actively promoting horse meat, even though in this country the animals are generally not raised as food.

•    More than 100,000 American horses are sent to slaughter each year, mainly for consumption in Europe and Asia.
•    The slaughter pipeline is horribly cruel, with many of the horses suffering immensely during transport and the misguided and often repeated attempts to render them unconscious. USDA documented the abuse and misery horses suffered at slaughterhouses in the U.S. before they closed in 2007.
•    Virtually all the horses used for meat spend most of their lives as work, competition or sport horses, companion animals, or wild horses.
•    Under the current rules and regulations, there is no safeguard in place that can protect against the consumption of unsafe toxins in horse meat.
•    Consumers do not know of the inherent dangers because there is no control over the drug residues.

AUTHOR: Jerry Finch
  • Ranching Cowgirl

    Well lets hope this helps!
    I have lost faith in most of our Politicians.
    If the people stand up and say no to our President he goes against the people every time!
    Then you have that Rep Skye in OK that her parents own the auction house her husband is a kill buyer and they shove their own agenda through despite the peoples out cries!
    Thank God for the sane voices out there protecting our horses……..
    SHAME ON America!
    Kill our horses take our rights away and
    Whats next Soylent Green?

    April 3, 2013
  • Lisa

    I shared the petition to Care2, if anyone wants to sign.

    April 3, 2013
  • Marcia

    First of all, I’m more concerned about what is happening to the horses than the possible risk to human health. Second, using fear of human disease as an incentive to treat animals better hasn’t seemed to work in the past. If people were concerned about their health they wouldn’t be doing a lot of things, from drinking too much, to driving under the influence to keeping the fast food industry booming to smoking. However, if reminders of toxins and fear of human harm will help the horses at all, then go for it.

    April 3, 2013
  • Cate Wines, Ph.D.

    The only way the people can really speak is to put Skye McNeil and Gov. Fallin out of office. Make sure they lose the next election.

    April 3, 2013
  • Debbie Tracy

    I totally agree, I too am disgusted with our gov. not all but many who seem to have the pull and sneaky moves that line their pockets and ( WE THE PEOPLE) do not have a voice any more!!! TERM LIMITS FOLKS get them OUT!!!

    I so hope that New Mexico will listen my fingers are crossed!!! I saw some video’s of that plant Valley Meat when it was breaking all kinds of regulations it was disgusting and they WANT to start ANOTHER slaughter house with OUR ICON’s, honestly I am so upset and just really angry that this is happening!! I DO believe things happen for a reason I think this is the time that ALL is EXPOSED on horse slaughter and we here and abroad will finally stop this disgusting business!!!! Thank you for trying so hard to stop this we have hope!!

    April 3, 2013
  • Howard Waller

    With all the bleating about protecting the horses what is your plan for getting rid of unwanted horses? I have 2 that were dumped on me that I have been feeding for years for no benefit to me. I don’t ride them and I have an ATV that gets me around that I don’t feed if I’m not using it so one way or another these animals are going away.

    Its not like these are native to this country, in case it escaped you they came here with the Spanish.

    April 3, 2013
      • Howard Waller

        So were the mastodons but I don’t see many of them running around. As to unwanted dogs, I live in the country where the city slickers figure farmers always have room for another unwanted animal like the 2 horses. In the last 22 years I’ve had to kill more than 65 dogs which, when dumped, decided my cattle and chickens were fair game. Under OK law any animal menacing or harassing a domestic animal is legal to kill!

        I live in the real world how about you?

        April 3, 2013
    • Cate Wines, Ph.D.

      @ jfinch: It has been scientifically proven by esteemed molecular biologists, genetics researchers and paleobiologists (Drs. Jay Kirkpatrick, Patricia Fazio, Ross MacPhee and others) that the horse originated in North America. Horses are a native species. Descendants of E. simplicidens (which traces back to eohippus), fossil evidence and mitochondrial DNA demonstrates their presence as long ago as 8 million years.
      Regulating breeding in the quarter horse industry most of all, followed by the thoroughbred industry is one answer to the unwanted horse issue. Another would be to request that every certified trainer in this country accept one unwanted horse, train or refresh it and find it a permanent home. A third answer is to convince/require all breed associations to contribute to a national euthansia fund, so that owners have an option different from the slaughter pipeline. There are at least 20 other solution options that have been offered in various fora.

      April 3, 2013
      • Cate Wines, Ph.D.

        Thank you, jfinch. Obviously, my comment was intended for Howard Waller.

        April 3, 2013
  • Linda Jackson

    I’ve forwarded many of these posts to National Public Radio and an investigative reporter; public knowledge and response (to their representatives) may be helpful. Also, I’ve passed on pertainent info to the local Poarch Creek Tribe; who have a history with the “trail of tears.” My son recommended that horses will survive quite well with open range habitat; that they previously lived their lives without human interference.

    April 3, 2013