Horse Meat Scandal Ensnares U.K. Taco Bell, as U.S. Mulls Horse Slaughterhouses

The United States Department of Agriculture is likely to approve a horse slaughtering plant in New Mexico.

Three other beef products in England also tested positive for horse meat

NBCDWF /  Cathy Rainone / Friday, Mar 1, 2013 


The United States Department of Agriculture is likely to approve a horse slaughtering plant in New Mexico.

The United States Department of Agriculture is likely to approve a horse slaughtering plant in New Mexico.

Europe’s horse meat food labeling scandal continues to hit major food companies, while regulators in the U.S. are weighing whether to allow horses to be slaughtered stateside for human consumption.

American consumers, meanwhile, are growing concerned that horse meat could eventually end up in their food supply.

After European inspectors found traces of horse meat in IKEA’s frozen Swedish meatballs last week, four new products in England, including Taco Bell’s Ground Beef, have tested positive for equine DNA, BBC News reported.

Taco Bell apologized to customers, saying the products had come from a supplier in Europe and all of its tainted stock has been removed.

“Once we learned of this issue, we immediately voluntarily tested our product for our three Taco Bell restaurants in the UK,” a Taco Bell spokesman said. “Based on that testing, we learned ingredients supplied to us from one supplier in Europe tested positive for horse meat.

The UK’s Food Standards Agency said that as part of the latest round of tests, three other products — Birds Eye’s Traditional Spaghetti Bolognese and Beef Lasagne and catering supplier Brakes’ Spicy Beef Skewer — have also been found to contain horse meat, BBC News reported.

Initially, horse meat was detected in January in frozen burgers on sale in England and in Ireland, and since then traces have been discovered in many processed beef products and prepared meals throughout Europe.

The latest developments on Europe’s horse meat scandal come amid reports that the U.S. Department of Agriculture is likely to approve a horse slaughtering house in Roswell, N.M., within the next two months, The New York Times reported Thursday.

Horse meat isn’t allowed to be produced in the U.S. for human consumption, but the USDA’s decision would allow it to occur for the first time since 2007, according to the Times.

Congress decided not to extend a ban on USDA horse meat inspections back in November 2011. Roswell-based Valley Meat Company sued the USDA over what it said was the lack of inspection for horses going to slaughter, according to the Times.

Currently, horses destined for slaughter have been shipped to Mexico and Canada instead, the Timesreported.

A spokesman for the agriculture department, Justin DeJong, told the Times that “several” companies had asked the agency to re-establish inspection of horses for slaughter. “These companies must still complete necessary technical requirements and the F.S.I.S. must complete its inspector training service,” he said.

Such a decision to bring back horse meat production in the U.S. may not be too popular with American consumers who feel a deep aversion to eating horse meat.

According to Food Museum co-founder Meredith Sayles, Americans see horses as something more than just animals.

“In the U.S. and U.K. horses are almost considered pets,” Sayles said. “And we don’t eat our pets.”

In fact, attempts by chefs to serve horse-based dishes have prompted passionate and even violent responses.

A restaurant owner in Philadelphia was threatened last week after announcing his plan to add horse meat to the menu.

“They called into the restaurant and said, ‘You guys start cooking horses, I am going to blow up your restaurant,’” Peter McAndrews told

Although horse meat is not necessarily unsafe for human consumption, opponents of horse slaughtering say that its consumption is risky because of the use of various kinds of drugs in horses.

The Humane Society of the United States has filed a petition with the Agriculture Department and the Food and Drug Administration to delay approval of any facility that would slaughter horses, citing concerns over drugs like phenylbutazone, used to treat inflammation in horses, the Times reported.

AUTHOR: Jerry Finch
  • Arlene

    How dare anyone tamper with food !!!! To compromise with food is a Criminal Offense !!!!!!!

    March 2, 2013
  • Karen Haehnlein

    And I’ll be right behind Peter McAndrews to make sure there is NOTHING left of the restaurant that has decided to serve Horsemeat.

    Just what in hell is the matter with people’s brains these days?

    I would flatten all the tires on the trucks and trailers that are used to transport horses to their death, and a bit of sand in the oil and sugar in the gas tank wouldn’t hurt either.

    March 2, 2013
    • Arlene

      Bravo !!!!!!! this is what is needed after watching this and trying to deal with this horror and all the Horse Horrors, for 12 years and nothing changes , maybe this is WHat IS NEEEDED !!!!!!!!!!!!!! ACTION SPEAKS LOUDER THEN WORDS !!!!!!!!

      March 2, 2013
  • Karen..I am usually non-violent! I will be in Oklahoma on Monday to protest Horse slaughter, and to attend the Advisory Board Meeting of the BLM. All legal activities, but so far, ineffective. I’m beginning to wonder if your way is best.. I look at the success of GreenPeace and the efforts against whaling…and wonder if interrupting the transport and killing of horses is indeed the best idea.

    March 2, 2013
  • Debbie Stoutamire

    Jerry – looks like all of your hard work is finally going to work out in the horse’s favor. I even saw comments out this on Leno the other night.

    March 2, 2013
  • Barbara Leonard

    Over 80% of US taxpayers are against horse slaughter, so why do our politicians not listen to us? Because our politician’s pockets are bulging with special interest money from a very few groups who want it. Why would the Cattlemen’s Assoc. want it? Because they think it will stop groups from watching the cruelty that goes on in beef slaughterhouses, for one. What else do you think is causing all the Ag-Gag bills that are erupting? Guess they’re not smart enough to figure out that they have started a war and consumers will finish that war and WIN. I can’t tell you the number of people, including myself, who are BOYCOTTING beef. And, rest assured, if we allow horse slaughter plants in the US, we will have the same problem Europe is having with horsemeat being used instead of beef in hamburger, if it’s not already happening. If you are a meat eater, be very careful what you eat…it may be toxic drug filled horsemeat.

    March 2, 2013
    • sherriey

      my house too is boycotting beef. never again will beef enter this house. i just pray that horsemeat has never crossed into any past beef….this makes me sick just thinking about it.

      March 3, 2013
  • Lorrie Roehm

    Years ago in Colorado there was a horrible truck trailer accident of horses on their way to slaughter. Many Vets and animal advocates came to the accident scene to help the horses. Many died but many were injured and trapped in the wreckage. The Vets were starting to put down the most injured horses that could not survive and the driver said he couldn’t sell the horses if they had drugs in them. He just wanted to let them live and suffer. The the Vets went around and injected every surviving horse with pain medication so not one horse could be sent to slaughter. This was the beginning of a grass roots effort in Colorado to rescue horses; many rescue groups started because of this tragic accident. Sometimes it just takes people to stand up and take dramatic action as these Vets did that day.

    March 3, 2013
  • Lorrie Roehm

    Does anyone know in OK and NM if the state reps, senators, governor have to report “gifts” they receive? In CA they do so it easy to check which special interest groups give “gifts” to sway votes.

    March 3, 2013
  • Ranching Cowgirl

    Bute your horses!

    March 3, 2013