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New Mexico’s AG Says Horses Are on Too Many Drugs to be Slaughtered

An official opinion from New Mexico Attorney General Gary K. King either marks the end of horse slaughter in The Land of Enchantment or a meaningless intervention into federal meat regulation.  In a June 10 AG’s opinion, the Democrat King said veterinary drugs are too commonly administered to horses not to view their meat as adulterated under state law, a ruling that would make horse meat unfit for human consumption.

Valley Meat Co. in Roswell, NM has been close to becoming the first USDA inspected horse slaughter facility in the U.S. since 2007. Valley Meat’s attorney, A. Blair Dunn, told the media the state AG’s opinion was meaningless.

Dunn said the horse slaughter facility will have a USDA-approved drug residue testing program in place just like those used for other animals.

King’s opinion came in response to a request from State Sen. Richard Martinez (D- Española).

“Based on our examination of the relevant constitutional, statutory and case law authorities, and the information available to us at this time, we conclude horse meat from U.S. horses would fit the legal definition of an adulterated food product under the NM Food Act if the meat came from horses that had been treated with chemical substances that the federal Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) has deemed unfit for human consumption,” King wrote. “We also conclude that if horse meat were an adulterated food product, the NM Food Act would prohibit its manufacture, sale or delivery.”

A ban on horse slaughter in the U.S. was imposed from 2007 through 2011, but then lifted after an Inspector General’s report suggested the ban was causing more inhumane treatment of horses, including widespread instances of starvation and abandonment.

Valley Meat, a former bovine slaughter operation, has been in the lead in its request for USDA inspection services, among a handful of other applicants mostly from small towns in rural states.

Meanwhile, national animal welfare groups are pressuring Congress to re-impose the ban and are conducting public opinion surveys in states with applications to show the generally large opposition to horse slaughter.

Owners who have no intention of ever sending their horse to slaughter often treat horses with many drugs for pain and other aliments. If those horses fall into the hands of someone who does send them to slaughter, there is a potential problem with drug residues getting into the meat.

Ironically, the Interior Department’s huge population of wild horses, which are never suppose to be slaughtered, are the most drug-free horses.

USDA’s National Residue Program exists to test newly slaughtered meat for illegal drug residue, pesticide, hormones, and other contaminants. There probably would be little difference in the way equine testing would work from the bovine testing, for example.

There is no safe level for some animal drugs. Phenylbutazone or “bute,” often used to control pain in horses, has no safe level for any horse used for slaughter. The European Union bans it from horses sold in the EU for human consumption.

One point of controversy is that the National Residue Program conducts post-mortem testing, meaning there is not a pre-slaughter way of cutting drug residue in meat.

© Food Safety News
  • hoover482

    If the only method of residue testing is post-mortem, send the carcasses that are deemed adulterated to a rendering facility in order to prevent that meat from reaching a consumer’s plate. Banning horse slaughter in the United States has prevented an outlet for unwanted horses, leaving many to suffer much more than they would had they been sent to a processing facility.

    • terri

      That’s a load of bull. Slaughter has no impact on unwanted horses, neglect or abandonment and it is certainly high up on the scale for promoting abuse.i totally age with the attorney general as to the meat being unfit for human consumption too.

      • hoover482

        I’m sorry, but I have to disagree with you. It is more inhumane for an unwanted horse to die from starvation/neglect/abandonment than it is to send them to slaughter. When I speak of “unwanted” horses, I am talking about those that an owner cannot take care of anymore because he/she has had to choose between feeding their family or their horse(s). Not as many people can afford horses as pets anymore, but there has to be an outlet for the horses stuck in the middle. Adoption is one route, but it’s not always the most practical option.

        • MorganLvr

          Why do you assume that every horse is going to die of one of two ways – slaughter or starvation? That’s idiotic. I’ve owned horses for 35 years, and I never even heard of any horses dying either way. There are all sorts of accidents and veterinary emergencies.with horses, but most horses in the US die of OLD AGE. Decent owners – that would be 99.99% – have their horses euthanized by their vet when the time comes. We always have and always will. Most horse owners don’t even consider slaughter as an option. I know I never would. A bullet can also be acceptable for euthanasia of horses it the shooter knows what he/she is doing. I’d shoot my horse myself rather than subject him to the horrors of the slaughter pipeline.

          Do you actually KNOW anyone who has had to choose between feeding their horse or their family? There are so many options besides slaughter – all one has to do is ask around or get on the internet. NO ONE would sell a horse they loved for slaughter.

          You say adoption isn’t always the “most practical option”!!!! PRACTICAL! Buddy, you have a heart like a rock. Have you ever seen horse slaughter? if not, go to YouTube and WATCH!! Also go to: http://www.kaufmanzoning.net. and see what it was REALLY like to have a slaughter plant in your neighborhood. If you don’t take this opportunity to educate yourself on this issue, please STOP POSTING!

      • HorseGal

        Stopping horse slaughter has turned this country into a no-kill shelter for horses. Are you aware of the costs associated with supporting a single horse? The cost associated with euthanasia and disposal of a horse? Despite the idealistic notions of legislators and misguided animal rights groups, horses are not just pets/companions in much of this country. A large contingent of horses that are companions are owned by those without the financial means for long-term care or end-of-life options. I seriously question your knowledge of the equine industry if you truly believe that the end of slaughter has not increased the number of unwanted horses, the burden on rescue organizations (who cannot keep up with demand), and the vast numbers of horses being shipped outside the US borders for slaughter. I live in south TX near the border. Hundreds of horses go by every day in trucks heading for the border. Those horses are trucked without food and water for days, held at the border, then brought to unregulated Mexican slaughterhouses with far less stringent standards than we can provide in the US. That’s what I call abuse.

        • MorganLvr

          Horse slaughter did NOT stop! Yes, to most horse owners, horses ARE pets, and the VAST majority wouldn’t even consider slaughter if they couldn’t keep their horse, or the horse needed to be put down. Slaughter is NOT euthanasia! Horse slaughter is THE worst death a horse could possible have – I have SEEN it, and NOT on videos. I lived in Texas when the two slaughter plants were open. Horse theft was so bad even the state tried to come up with ways to help horse owners protect their horses. Noting helped at all but shutting those chambers of horror down.

          I DO know the cost of euthanizing a horse and taking care of the body. It’s about the same as caring for a horse for a month. If a person can’t come up with that much I can’t imagine how they were caring for a horse at all.

          When we had slaughter in the US, were trucked thousands of miles without food and water – there were three plants in the entire USA and two of those were in Texas. They were treated just as badly as those horses you are seeing, and there are many areas in the US that are closer to Canada and Mexico than to Texas and Illinois. I assume you don’t know that many of those horses will be rejected by the Mexican slaughter plants and the killer who brought them there will abandon them where they stand. This is well documented and it includes thousands of horses. I call THAT abuse.

          Mexican horse slaughter plant are BY NO MEANS unregulated! In fact, they are owned and regulated by the same companies that owned and regulated our domestic plants – Member States of the European Union. The Mexican plants where our horses go are certified by the EU – most in Canada are too – and their regulations come from the EU. The very same ones they used in our plants. Where DO you get this drivel? And why would you BELIEVE it, for God’s sake?

          Since you don’t own horses and obviously know absolutely nothing about them, your opinion doesn’t count much at all. What you call abuse doesn’t even exist! Nice going! See: http://www.kaufmanzoning.net and see some REAL abuse. The pictures you’ll see were taken by the USDA from Beltex in Ft. Worth and Dallas Crown in Kaufman.

          WHY don’t you people do some research before posting stuff everyone who knows anything about the situation knows is garbage? Unless, of course, you yourself are a pro-slaughter pimp, spreading stuff even you know if untrue but you don’t care. Which is it?

        • http://www.beaksandnoses.net/ beaks

          then the breeders need to stop breeding – people breed, have baby horses sell them and then they get killed! make so sense to me. the same is happening to our dogs, cats and birds

    • debbie

      You are so right Terri, I mean we have had slaughter here or over the border for WHAT 20,30 years Do you think it has made a difference hoover482,? Slaughter endorses OVER BREEDING like AQHA, last year REG. 150,000 foals and RIGHT NOW their web site they are giving incentives to BREED MORE, so PLEASE??? Get your facts just don’t through out saying stuff you obviously know nothing about, that abundance of horses is a PRO SLAUGHTER TACTIC , what we do have an abundance of is horses that are Breed over and over then they are discarded at slaughter , by the way 70% of those horses are Quarter horses and THAT ORG. is endorsing horse slaughter, it is NOT the HUGE abused neglected horses NO that’s CRAP we will although have some unfortunately but NOT what Pro Slaughter cry about pulled you in didn’t it, GOD ALMIGHTY, I wish some people would use their heads???

      • hoover482

        Thanks for enlightening me on your “facts”.

      • MorganLvr

        Debbie – horse slaughter plants have existed in the US, Canada and Mexico for more like 40 years. If it hasn’t helped the problem of “unwanted” horses – a term that was invented by the pro-slaughter faction even before all our plants were even closed.

        There are many other options for those who care. For those that don’t care, I really have nothing to say.

        I wish people would use their heads for something other than a hat rack too.

        • debbie

          Oh my goodness I had the timeline wrong as you say does it really matter really if it has been 30 20 or 40 it is TO TO LONG but thanks for enlightening me?

    • MorganLvr

      Are you REALLY so uninformed – or dumb – to know that horse slaughter NEVER stopped? We always sent thousands of horses to slaughter in Mexico and Canada – so now we send them all to those countries. There wasn’t ONE day when slaughter wasn’t available. In fact, slaughter has been available for FORTY YEARS! Any one can send horses to slaughter if they want.

      How about an answer – uninformed or dumb?

  • Nancy

    So if the National Residue Program conducts post-mortem testing…what do they do with all the contaminated dead meat? Send it to the pet food industry? Slaughter proponents really want to get their foot in the door don’t they?

    • MorganLvr

      We don’t even use horse meat in pet food anymore, and haven’t for decades. Too contaminated. Isn’t it cool that we want to feed people overseas meat that WE won’t use for dog food? How can anyone justify such a thing?

  • glebec

    Pet food companies quit using horsemeat in the 1970s because so many dogs were getting cancer. There is no such thing as a horse in the U.S. that has been used or trained for anything that has not been given a number of medications that are never, never allowed in food animals – raning from worners to bute and even “home remedies” such as snake venom. We know this. We have always known this. And yet the USDA and the FDA have known we were selling contaminated meat in the export market. And now we can watch the whole food safety industry turn itself inside out to try to accommodate horse killers again. And we are supposed to trust this food system? One where anyone that is making money from unsafe food takes precedent over food safety – at least until there are bodies. Our system is that once something starts killing people, then the government steps in and pretends to care.

    • http://www.beaksandnoses.net/ beaks

      the government needs to step out of the food industry USDA and FDA are pretty much useless – i have totally lost faith due to all the lies

  • ihatenazis

    “In a June 10 AG’s opinion, the Democrat King said veterinary drugs are too commonly administered to horses not to view their meat as adulterated under state law, a ruling that would make horse meat unfit for human consumption.”

    Wtf wrote this article? “Democrat King”?? Really? Look! Unless sadly mistaken there is no outcry demand for horseyburgers at MickeyD’s. There is no civil unrest in america due to the dearth of dead animal food that whinnied before slaughter. Nobody wants to eat Seabiscuit! These butchers should stop trying to foist their problems into our stomachs.

  • terri

    Ban horse slaughter. Support the SAFE Act.

  • susanm

    It’s about time that someone did something to put a stop to this proposed plant. It’s a total no brainer really. Horses in America are not raised for food. They are classified as companion animals by the FDA and are therefore given drugs during routine healthcare practices that would be banned in animals intended for human consumption. There is no traceability system currently in place in the U.S. to determine the type of drugs in horses sent to slaughter and because of this, horsemeat in the U.S. must be considered adulterated and unsafe for consumption, period. End of story. What don’t you understand here.
    The majority of Americans simply don’t want this industry to be re-instated in the U.S. Most of us feel that horses are truly our companions in farming and ranching, sport and recreation, mounted patrols, rehabilitation and therapy programs, to name a few. We don’t want our tax dollars spent on a predatory, corrupt, and greed-driven industry like horse slaughter. The pro-slaughter propaganda is without credibility, ethics, or morals and only serves to encourage irresponsible horse ownership and over-breeding practices. Why do you think that the proponents for horse slaughter are lead by the AQHA. Their business model has become synonymous with the horsemeat industry because it relies on encouraging over-breeding incentive programs to benefit monetarily from the registration fees from such. Then the excess horses from these abusive over-breeding programs can be conveniently dumped into the slaughter pipeline, which almost solely exists for this purpose, and the cycle of abuse and misuse can continue. How is it that an organization built around the promotion, preservation, and protection of a wonderful breed of horse can turn around and blatantly betray the same. But, it’s totally true as at least 70% of all horses slaughtered each year from the U.S. in Mexico and Canada are Quarter Horses. Enough said.
    Unless we ban horse slaughter in the U.S., we could potentially face our own version of the European horsemeat scandal here. Consumer confidence abroad has been highly effected by it as is shown in the huge shift away from meat consumption and processed and packaged food consumption. The vegetarian/vegan movement is on the rise as well as purchasing and promoting locally grown food products.
    Banning horse slaughter will encourage responsible horse ownership and breeding programs. It will help us to create and implement proper alternative programs for humane euthanasia, reproductive control, and re-homing and rescues. This will truly benefit not only our horses but the integrity of our food supply and the standards of our country. Support the SAFE Act and ask your legislators to do the same.

    • horseman15

      Blah,blah,blah. Classified as companion animals by PETA, which considers everything as a companion.

      • crookedstick

        Correction… Classified by the FDA, not PETA. USDA will inspect 3 out of 100 horses. Isn’t that comforting?

  • debbie

    Yeah I so agree this country has really always been REACTIVE rather than PRO ACTIVE, one would think that our past history with towns that had slaughter here would give them a clue?? But NO we are going to make the same mistakes again BOY OH BOY we really have learned haven’t we??

    Horse slaughter is nothing but a dumping ground for OVER BREEDERS, despicable is what it is!!

    This slaughter is a DARK SLIPPERY SLOPE that our GOV. is inviting into our FOOD SAFETY and mark my words it WILL get into our FOOD count on it!!!

    AND WHAT are they going to kill all these horses THEN find out AFTER they are unfit to eat YEAH RIGHT, it will be cut and packed to eat TOO, don’t trust anyone in this corrupt business and certainly not our GOV. in anything they say!!!

    It does NOT seem to matter that the Majority of American’s want this to ALL STOP make people responsible be held accountable for ownership BUT OH NO they want to invite corruption & torture to the very backbone of this country OUR HORSES.. I MEAN I DON”T WANT MY TAX DOLAR SPENT ON THIS I AM DOWN RIGHT ANGRY I MEAN REALLY ANGRY,

    NO ONE IS HEARING US???????? BAN HORSE SLAUGHTER ALREADY!!!!! PLEASE for god sake!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • smackme420

    I live in New Mexico. If there is a State in this union that NEEDS inexpensive, healthy, food- It’s here in the Land of Enchantment. Poverty is huge and money rare. But, to allowed tainted meat to be sold or even considered for human consumption is wrong, disgusting, and bordering on evil. That said, considering the power of the almighty dollar, evil will prevail- again.

    • MorganLvr

      No, not in New Mexico it won’t. Your AG is right in banning slaughter of horses that don’t have a thorough health history going back to the breeder. Of course, none of our horses have anything like that, so, it will effectively ban horse slaughter for human consumption in New Mexico.

      There is FINALLY getting some momentum in Washington do DO something about horse slaughter at the Federal level. Yesterday, the full House Appropriations Committee passed a Budget that again bans tax money from being used by the USDA for inspecting horse slaughter plants. Please, get with your Senators and Representatives and ask them to support the anti-horse slaughter bill that is up in both the House and Senate.

  • Mustang Man

    BLM’s wild horses and Burro’s are ALL given “banned for use in animals intended for human consumption” within days, if not hours of their capture. They always have and always will be given these drugs upon thier capture based on BLM’s [processing regulations. Mustangs are all tainted with banned substances after capture. What part of “Banned” does the pro slaughter side not understand? Our educatino system is not that bad after all.

  • Bill Henry

    Is the horse in America going to face the same fate as happens in the Greyhound racing world. Killing of the animals that don’t perform in a money making fashion. what would they do to you for killing your own pets? Stop all cruelty to all animals including killing healthy animals because they don’t make you a profit. We make our laws so complicated and full of loopholes that make things such as this hard to regulate. Just write one that simply says stop it!

  • skippy

    They are planning on putting 20 equine slaughterhouses in the United States, they will kill 1 million horses a year. We as horse breeders will NOT breed them for slaughter. The killers will have to breed them for slaghter as horse breeders wont. Every time they steal one of our horses another bill board will go up calling for a removal of the slaughterhouses. If you want them then you breed them to kill. No more stealing….

    • MorganLvr

      There aren’t going to be 20 horse slaughter plants in the US. They would go broke before they even got started. Demand for US horses is dropping because of the huge horse meat scandal in the UK, EU and Asia. They know we don’t raise horses as food animals and the vats majority of horse medications and other products – like fly spray – are indeed dangerous for humans. It’s illegal to export adulterated meat for human consumption. New Mexico’s AG is absolutely right.

      Yesterday the full House Approbations Committee pass a Budget that would again ban tax money from being spent by the USDA to inspect horse slaughter plants. It’s a start!

  • joeb

    We will take the plant in Kentucky if you don’t want it in New Mexico. 40 to 100 jobs or families will be positively impacted due to the processing. Horse owners in the bluegrass state have allowed many of their horses to be under neglectful conditions because of the raising costs of feed due to mass inflation, most turn to setting them free to roam.

    I think it is crazy that someone would abort a child (murder) then defend a horse from slaughter.

  • Sue French

    Seeing as the USDA doesn’t mind the bovine growth hormones in our beef, why would they be more discerning with horse meat? Where are they going to get horses to breed, if they’ve already been given all of these drugs? That doesn’t even take into consideration all the GMO, pesticide ridden feed these animals are fed, nor the ractopamine drug(=higher productivity and profits) being used to make them grow faster with leaner meat! I’m sure the waste from these animals is in our water supply as well. What a tangled web they have woven for us to consume. Want your doctor to prescribe more drugs for you? They don’t need to. You’re consuming them regardless. Which means you’ll develop another illness, for which they will want to “treat” the symptoms with … MORE drugs!

  • kinseydallas

    New Mexico’s Attorney general is just another socialist grand stander that needs to stay out of this. Has nothing to do with this fight and just wants to start trouble. I place the AG with the community organizers like Obama and the goofy Bill Richardson the Saul Alinsky-ites.
    I have owned and showed horses nearly my entire life and yes processing the meat to feed people is no different than cattle, chicken, sheep, pigs, or goats. Never will watch another Redford moving again. Didn’t know he was such an idiot !!!!

  • Donna Keen

    I am in the process of designing a freeze brand to place on horses who have received medication and are unfit to slaughter. The brand will be voluntary and the decision to brand will be made by owners with veterinary assistance. This will wart off slaughter buyers if they know the horse will be turned away and hopefully if the brands are registered in all border crossing counties, horse will be recognized as unfit for slaughter and be denied at the plants.

    I have a lot of support from the thoroughbred racing community and hope to have some specifics soon as we are working with a graphic designer to develop an easily recognized brand.

    Please feel free to message me if you have any ideas or would like to support our mission.

    Donna Keen
    remembermerescue@live.com