US horse abattoirs would increase risk to American food chain – HSUS figure

Mark Markarian
Mark Markarian

Allowing horse abattoirs to operate in the United States would greatly increase that risk of the meat finding its way into the domestic food chain, a senior animal welfare figure says.

Mark Markarian, who is chief program and policy officer for the Humane Society of the United States and president of The Fund for Animals, was commenting following the release of a study based in California that detected the illegal presence of horse-meat in two of 48 ground meat samples purchased from commercial outlets in the state.

One product was labeled as bison and listed its country of origin as Canada, while the other was labeled as lamb and listed its country of origin as the US. They had been sourced for the study from two different online specialty retailers.

The research team from Chapman University, reporting their findings in the journal Food Control, found that 10 of the 48 samples were mislabeled in various respects.

Markarian, writing in his blog, Animals and Politics, said the research appeared to be the first extensive study on meat species testing in the US since 1995, and the first serious look since Europe was rocked with a horse-meat scandal in 2013.

He said the latest findings amounted to one more reason for Congress to pass the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act.

It was also, he said, a reason for Congress to maintain the current prohibition on spending federal tax dollars for horse slaughter plant inspections, which are required to allow the horse-meat export industry to operate on US soil.

“Some would-be horse slaughter profiteers are actively trying to open plants here in the US, which would make it much more difficult to avoid the type of commingling and food fraud—with horsemeat being passed off as beef that we saw with this study.

“Unintentional mislabeling may occur when several species are slaughtered in the same plants, using the same equipment, or in the same general vicinity. Or more unscrupulous producers could purposely mix in the meat of lower-cost species with that of higher-cost species to cut corners and increase profit.”

Americans did not want to eat horsemeat, he said.

Horses ended up being trucked hundreds or thousands of miles to meet a grisly end, he said. “And it’s generally reserved for the strongest, healthiest horses, since they would yield the most meat and the biggest profits.”

“There is currently no system in the US to track medications and veterinary treatments given to horses to ensure that their meat is safe for human consumption. It’s a free-for-all when this tainted and contaminated meat is dumped on unsuspecting consumers through their dinner plates and supermarket shelves, either overseas or here at home.

“The prior experience in Europe, and now the new study in the US, shows there is no foolproof way to be certain that horsemeat will not enter the human food chain, and allowing plants to operate here would greatly increase that risk.

“The predatory kill buyers who outbid families and rescue groups so they can scoop up healthy horses and sell their meat by the pound are not providing a ‘service’ to horses, but are creating threats to our equine companions and to food safety here and abroad.”

4 thoughts on “US horse abattoirs would increase risk to American food chain – HSUS figure

  • August 28, 2015 at 9:10 pm

    I would never send a horse to slaughter, but I don’t think I have the right to tell other people what to do. If these groups want to make slaughter illegal, they need to put their money where their mouth is. It cost a minimum of $2000.00 per year to take care of a horse. So for 150,000 horses you are looking at over $300,000,000.00. This will double the next year and that $600,000,000.00 will double every year for each year the ban on slaughter is in effect.
    Some people will say, reduce the number of horses by not breading. This will reduce the quality of the remaining horses. Not every horse has value. A lot of them are just plain nags. They have bad legs, knees, hearts, some are blind and incomplete brains. If you stop breading, horses with defects will become dominate. For every good horse there are two or three bad ones. These problems are just not evident to the uninitiated.
    So what do you do with the bad horses. You can euthanize them and bury the bodies. This seems wasteful and not good for the environment. In a world of starving people, it seems more humane to use the meat to help feed children who are starving.
    Even the American Veterinary Medical Association believes the horse slaughter houses it has inspected, kill the horses in a humane manner. This includes the modern facilities in Mexico.
    If this bill passes, more horses will be abandoned and left to starve or die of dehydration. Just look at the mess the BLM has. Too many horses and not enough grass and water. It seems more humane to slaughter these animals, because starvation is a slow and hard way to die.
    Please read this:

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  • August 29, 2015 at 3:03 am

    Very good, thank you!

  • August 29, 2015 at 3:06 am

    Regarding the comment about regarding bison, there’s only one plant in Canada that kills bison and horses – Bouvry Exports in Alberta.


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