ABC NEWS / Chris Goos / March 13, 2013
A trio of U.S. lawmakers is saying “no” to horse meat.
The U.S. is set to begin slaughtering horses again for the first time in six years, and recent news of Ikea sausages and British Taco Bell beef containing small amounts of horse has raised horse-meat alarm bells among the meat-consuming public.
Congress originally banned horse slaughter in 2006 by defunding USDA’s horse-meat inspectors. But after the ban lapsed in 2011, a lawsuit and industry pressure has forced USDA to start inspecting again, and a company says it expects to open the first slaughterhouse in Roswell, N.M., within the next month and a half.
“These companies must still complete necessary technical requirements and FSIS [the Agriculture Department’s Food Safety and Inspection Service] must still complete its inspector training, but at that point, the Department will legally have no choice but to go forward with inspections, which is why we urge Congress to reinstate the ban,” a USDA spokesperson told ABC News.
Enter Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., and Reps. Patrick Meehan, R-Pa., and Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill.
The three will introduce a bill on Wednesday that would put a stop to the pending horse slaughter.
The Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act, as the House version is dubbed, would not only ban the slaughter of horses for human consumption in the U.S. but would also prohibit shipping horses outside the U.S. for food slaughter. Unlike the appropriations rider that had prevented horse slaughter until now, the statutory ban would not expire.
The Humane Society of the United States and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals will hold a press conference on Capitol Hill on Wednesday with the three lawmakers, the two groups announced on Tuesday.
“Horses sent to slaughter are often subject to appalling, brutal treatment,” Schakowsky said in a statement emailed to ABC News by a spokesperson. “We must fight those practices. The Safeguard American Food Exports Act of 2013 will ensure that these majestic animals are treated with the respect they deserve.”
WASHINGTON, D.C.—The ASPCA (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), the Animal Welfare Institute, The Humane Society of the United States, Humane Society Legislative Fund, veterinarian Dr. Nick Dodman and 17-year-old equestrian Brittany Wallace will join U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., and Reps. Patrick Meehan, R-Pa., and Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., as they introduce federal legislation to stop the inhumane killing of American horses for human consumption and prohibit the transport of horses across the U. S. border for slaughter. The passage of these bills would prohibit horse slaughter operations in the U.S., end the current export and slaughter of more than 160,000 American horses abroad each year, and protect the public from consuming toxic horsemeat.
- Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La.
- Rep. Patrick Meehan, R-Pa.
- Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill.
- Dr. Nick Dodman, DVM, ACVA and ACVB, Co-Founder of Veterinarians for Equine Welfare
- Brittany Wallace, 17-year-old equestrian, discovered first horse was sold and later rescued from slaughter
- Nancy Perry, senior vice president of Government Relations, ASPCA
- Chris Heyde, deputy director, Government and Legal Affairs, Animal Welfare Institute
- Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO, The Humane Society of the United States
WHEN: Wednesday, March 13 at 10 a.m.
WHERE: 192 Dirksen Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C.
WHY: The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently announced plans to process an application for inspecting horse slaughter at a New Mexico facility. If approved, Valley Meat Company LLC will be the first facility in the U.S. to slaughter horses for human consumption since 2007, when the few remaining plants closed after Congress chose to eliminate funding for horse meat inspections. This surprising move to reopen a horse slaughter plant plays out against the scandal unfolding in the European Union, where consumers have been alarmed by the discovery in prepared food products of horse meat mislabeled as beef.