horsesfence-406On Friday, a bipartisan group of U.S. senators introduced a bill in Congress to ban horse slaughter. The John Rainey Memorial Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act would alter the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act so that all horse parts are deemed unsafe. In addition, it would prohibit the export of U.S. horse meat and horses bound for slaughter in another country for human consumption. Consuming horse meat from animals raised in the U.S. “likely poses a serious threat to human health and the public should be protected from these unsafe products,” reads the bill sponsored by Senators Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Susan Collins (R-ME) and Barbara Mikulski (D-MD). U.S. horses are frequently treated with drugs that aren’t approved for use in animals intended for human consumption, the bill text explained. Horse slaughter is currently banned by an amendment included in the funding package for fiscal year 2015, but the provision prohibiting funding for inspections of horse slaughter plants is only in effect through September. The House version of the bill was introduced on April 22 by Rep. Frank Guinta (R-NH) and has 50 Democrat and 20 Republican co-sponsors. The ban was also proposed in both the House and Senate back in 2013.

  • dk

    Let’s hope this passes!

    • dman

      dk, are you going to take in or pay for the expenses of all of the unwanted horses? Or do you prefer those horses are left loose in the wild to die by starvation or be killed by other animals?

  • Gary

    Ok, so if the antibiotics are regulated the same as other animals for slaughter it would be “safe” and “ok”, right? Sounds like a cop out for people who are against this from a personal point of view.

    • ‘bute isn’t an antibiotic.

    • steffers

      You are right. I am against horse slaughter, and I have a horse. This is not an antibiotic but other drugs, some of which are also used in cattle. This is a sentimental argument couched as a chemical argument. There is a jurisdictional issue here that has been mentioned, that between the USDA and the FDA. One cannot regulate the other. The horse will need to be declassified as “livestock” and listed as a pet instead. I don’t think this will happen due to tax concerns. However, people need to be very, very aware of what they are asking for and what the outcome might be. When ANYTHING is made illegal, be it horses for slaughter or otherwise, a black market ensues. If the act passes, horses for slaughter will become black market items. I live in an area where there are kill auctions/kill buyers, and horses get stolen for those purposes. If this act goes through, the horse theft will only increase here and in other border states.

  • If Congress wants to ban the slaughter of horses for human food, then they need to amend the Federal Meat Inspection Act. If they want to ban the slaughter of horses for animal food, then they need to amend the Food Drug & Cosmetic Act. This bipartisan group of senators does not impress me with their understanding of the applicable statutes.

    They need to decide why they want to ban the slaughter of horses. I am a retired veterinarian from the Midwest. I have never owned a horse, mule, or other equine. I have heard the argument for and against. Americans keep horses as pets for leisure activity. Americans do not consume their pets. Americans do not feed their pets to other animals. All the arguments that horse meat poses a serious threat to human health fail. If this is a valid argument, then Congress needs to ban the production and sale of ground beef and all the vegetable crops repeatedly recalled for the presence of Shiga-toxin producing Escherichia coli. If Congress believes that the slaughter of horses for human or animal food is aesthetically unacceptable in America, then just say so and get on with it.

    They also need to decide what happens to unwanted horses. There are a lot of horses out there that no one wants to maintain. I do oppose turning them out to starve. Euthanasia is acceptable, but what becomes of the carcass. You cannot simply leave it for the scavengers. Someone will be unhappy with whatever the final decision is, but Congress needs to make one and be done with it.

    • Sue

      Are you saying that when I buy meat at Food Lion or Harris Teeter or any other food store, that it might possibly be HORSE MEAT AND WE ARE NOT TOLD ABOUT IT? What else does our government keep from we the people?

      • Anonymous

        That’s not what he’s saying at all. Did you read his comment?

      • Sue: Absolutely not. You will find no horse meat in US Inspected & Passed meat and meat products produced in the US. The USDA prohibits the entry of horses into slaughterhouses that slaughter other classes of livestock. The USDA actively monitors/tests imported meat and meat products for the presence of prohibited species. To the best of my knowledge, at the moment, no one slaughters horses on a commercial basis in the US. Slaughter of personally owned horses, by the owner, on the owner’s land for the owner’s personal use remains legal and does occur in isolated instances.

        • shortyshappy

          not true… meat is starting to filter back into the US meat supply….don’t believe me….check out articles online regarding horse slaughter. Wake up.

          • Shortyshappy: Please read my comment closely. I did not say the horse meat is not available in the US marketplace. I know that horse meat is available, legally or illegally, if you want it. I said that horse meat is not an ingredient in US Inspected & Passed meat and meat products produced in the US. There is a difference.

    • Linda La Chance

      Very well written.

    • veckhoff

      I guess you are not a horse vet, or you would be familiar with the labels on the back of so many common horse meds (bute, banamine, ivermectin, lasix, clenbuterol, chloramphenicol, Regumate) that are banned in food animals — and the reasons for that. But this is what’s on most of them: “not to be used in animals intended for human consumption.”

      It’s not a joke. The health hazard is real.

      • True, equine medicine was not my primary work. I prefer food animal practice. However, to assume that I am unfamiliar with the applicable restrictions for every drug you list would be a gross error. The FDA prohibits the use of these drugs in animals used for human food. The FDA does not prohibit the use in animals (horses, dogs, cats, pet birds, rodents, reptiles, amphibians) not used for human food. As long as horses are not used for human food in the US, then the use of these drugs is legal in horses and poses no health threat to humans. If you want to talk about a health risk to pets consuming pet foods containing horse meat products, that is a different matter.

        • veckhoff

          US horses that have ingested banned drugs for food animals get shipped to slaughter every day outside of the country (as they did when domestic plants were operating here). They are sold at auction and the sellers sign their own affidavits swearing that the horses are drug free. Of course they aren’t. The killbuyers buy them, no questions asked, no vet records. They sell them the next day and swear they’ve owned them and have kept them drug free for six months. The US has an “honor” system. The US horses going to slaughter are more medicated than any livestock, pet or human on this earth. Not only a hazard for pets ingesting the meat, but humans, too.

        • “The FDA prohibits the use of these drugs in animals used for human food.”

          Hence the inclusion of the law under the FDCA,

        • Tracey Rouse

          “As long as horses are not used for human food in the US, then the use of
          these drugs is legal in horses and poses no health threat to humans”

          But it does. The horses are going to Canada to be slaughtered for human consumption. The meat is than sold in Canada and Overseas for humans. I just hope you never go on vacation in Canada or Europe and try horse meat!

          • shortyshappy

            Sorry…..contaminated meat has already been detected in the US….filtering in through Europe probably. It is already here. Only way to stop this is to BAN the slaughter of horses in the US….no exporting of horses out of the country!

        • Sue Carter

          The aim is to slaughter horses in the U.S. For food. If a USDA certified plant is opened here, what would stop them from selling it here. But, what is the difference where it is sold? Is it ok to give meat with phenylbutozone residue to Japanese kids?

          • Nothing prohibits the use of US Inspected & Passed horse meat for use as human food in the US at the federal level. That does not prevent individual states, or even cities, from prohibiting the use of horse meat in restaurants under their jurisdiction. The difference in where it is sold depends on the country where the sale to the consumer takes place. I cannot speak for other countries. As for the Japanese kids, it is not OK to feed them, or anyone else for that matter, any meat product of any species that contains a chemical residue that violates an FDA tolerance.

          • Sue Carter

            I totally agree with you Michael, that the way to prevent adulterated (drugged) meat from entering the food chain is to remove Equine from the USDA Amenable Species designation.

        • shortyshappy

          The FDA can restrict these drugs until the cows come home, but the drugs are still filtering through and getting into current meat supply line. Just a mattr of time…….when all hell will break loose!

      • oldcowvet

        Ivermectin, furosemide, and Banamine all have a label claim for cattle. Some formulations may have a cattle claim, and yet still not be allowed in horses intended for human consumption, so that label statement only means it that it us not allowed in horses for food. May not have any research to support it’s use in that manner. That said, Bute clenbuterol and such have no place in the food chain.

      • shortyshappy

        Thank you! Somehow, they just don’t believe the hazard is there. THAT is why we in America…or at least used to….do not eat their horses! Stupid Europeans. And not, the contaminated meat supply is starting to filter into the US through European markets. This is all about GREED.

    • Congress can choose it’s own course when creating law. Your argument that they have to amend some existing law isn’t a viable argument.

      And the law is related to the safety of the meat, yet you’re bringing up unwanted horses. There’s no connection between the two. We would hope existing animal welfare laws would be sufficient to care for the horses.

      But I’m sure the horses would be touched by your concern.

      • Shelley: True, Congress can choose its own course; however, the Department of Health and Human Services cannot implement a change in the Food Drug & Cosmetic Act that creates a conflict with the Federal Meat Inspection Act, which the USDA implements. The FMIA regulates the safety of meat and meat products produced for human consumption from cattle, swine, sheep, goats, and horses. The FDCA regulates the safety of meat and meat products produced as animal food from any source. My point is this; amending the FDCA to deem all horse parts unsafe will not eliminate the obligation of the USDA to provide inspection services to any company wanting to slaughter horses for human consumption; provide the company meets all the applicable regulatory requirements. Bottom line, if Congress wants to end the slaughter of horses in the US for human food, then they need to amend the Federal Meat Inspection Act and remove horses, mules, and other equines from the list of amenable species.

        Please do not interpret my comments as meaning I am uncaring when it comes to horses. I believe that we as human beings have a moral obligation to treat all animals humanely. I have acquaintances who work in horse rescue programs and they tell horrible stories of horses simple turned loose to fend for themselves because their immoral owners are too cheap to dispose of them humanely and can no longer dispose of the via slaughter.

        • oldcowvet

          Agreed, if you want to ban it, amend FMIA, the spineless route of withholding funding just sets the stage for a fiasco similar to the last time.
          I would agree on appalling neglect of far to many horses. Far to many irresponsible owners, if you want a pony, you need to be prepared to care for the beast until the end.

        • The USDA is obligated to provide inspections for meat production, but that doesn’t mean that a ban on horse meat introduces an irreconcilable conflict. It doesn’t. The USDA won’t need to provide inspections for the meat, because horse slaughter will, itself, be banned. If no inspection is necessary, there is no conflict.

          It’s not that complicated.

          Again, there are animal welfare laws to cover owners abandoning their horses. Point of fact: an abandoned horse would specifically be the kind of horse not wanted for slaughter for human consumption because the main markets for this horse meat want provenance about drug usage during the horse’s lifetime.

          No, your expressed concern about horse welfare is inconsistent with the facts surrounding horse slaughter.

          • Shelley: I am sorry to be the one to tell you this, but it really is that complicated. The legislation in question does not ban the slaughter of horses for any purpose. It only requires the FDA to consider horse meat unsafe for human consumption. However, the FDCA (21 USC 392) exempts horse meat from the requirements of the FDCA because the USDA inspects horse meat under the FMIA. Creating a requirement for horse meat in the FDCA fails as long as the FDCA exempts horse meat from the jurisdiction of the FDCA.

            Removing the exemption and giving the FDA jurisdiction does not solve the problem as long as the USDA has jurisdiction under the FMIA. The due process clause in the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution prohibits the federal government from giving two federal agencies procedural jurisdiction over the same product under separate statutes.

            True, there are animal welfare laws; however, unless you can identify the owner of the abandoned horse, you have no one to prosecute. People who abandon horses seldom leave the abandoned horse with proof of ownership.

          • It’s the perfect place to make an amendment. It has to do with adulterated food products. Horse meat is unsafe because it’s contaminated with drugs that are unsafe for human consumption, as noted in the FDMCA, and hence, adulterated.

            It’s an addition to the section of the FDCA that covers prohibited acts. It references section 409 (food additives (the drugs)) and section 512 (unsafe animal drugs).

            It is an appropriate place to put the law. Where would you put it into the Federal Meat Inspection Act? There is no place where it could fit, especially because of the impact of the drugs on the meat.

            It is the FDA that controls what drugs are allowed in animals that are destined for human consumption.

            Let me repeat that: it is the FDA that controls which drugs are allowed in livestock destined for human consumption.

            It makes no sense for this law to be inserted anywhere else, but where it is targeted. I’m puzzled why you would think otherwise.


          • I have already explained the problem with amending the FDCA to address an animal species that are exempt from the FDCA. The drugs not of use in animals produced for human consumption are adulterants, not food additives; therefore, Section 409 does not apply. Section 512 applies to drugs used to treat disease in animals that are unsafe because they harm the animal, not drugs used in animals produce for human consumption; therefore, Section 512 does not apply.

            If prohibiting the slaughter of horses for human consumption is your goal, then you want to amend the FMIA to remove horses, mules, and other equines as amenable species. You do not need a new law declaring horse meat unsafe. You need to remove horses from the list livestock that can be slaughtered for human food.

            True, the FDA regulates the use of drugs in animals; however, it is the USDA, not the FDA, that regulates the use of those animals for human food. The FDA can change the animal drug use requirements all they want; it will have no affect on the legality to slaughter horses for human food.

          • We’ll have to disagree, in part because this conversation isn’t productive, or even really focused on the intent of the law’s change.

          • steffers

            I totally agree. You would have to remove the species “equine” from the definition of “livestock”. However, you would have HUGE tax ramifications if you were to do that with those who raise horses as “livestock” and the tax breaks therein. You have two competing agencies here, the USDA and the FDA.

    • Sue Carter

      As a Veterinarian you should be familiar with the FDA Black Box Warning on most Equine Drugs. In case you are not, it reads NOT FOR USE IN FOOD ANIMALS. In other words, NOT FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION.

      • Sue; Actually, I am quite familiar with FDA labelling restrictions. I have used such pharmaceuticals in animals not for use as human food. The existence of these labeling instruction is a valid argument for administrative action against veterinarians and producers who use these drugs in animals slaughtered for human food and residue testing of livestock going to slaughter. It is not an argument for banning the slaughter of horses or any other species simply because these drugs might be used in animals slaughtered for human food..

        • Sue Carter

          The problem is that the Drugs are given to the horse prior to it being decided by the loving owner that the horse will be sent to slaughter. There is no record of drugs given. FDA is fully aware that most American Hi receive these restricted Drugs. To then all Horses to be slaughtered in USDA approved slaughter houses is a scam.
          USDA/FSIS/ FDA are merging under FSMA. They can no longer claim ignorance.

    • shortyshappy

      I know what I feed our horses for supplements….believe me, you do not want to consume any meat that has these drugs/chemicals in the flesh!

  • dman

    Dumb idea with no thought of the consequences of this action.

    • steffers

      What do you think are the consequences thereof?

      • dman

        Horses that are sick are forced to suffer until they die.
        Horses are released to the wild to suffer and die.
        Owners that run out of money for feed starve the horses until they die.

        Until people come up with a plan to deal with all of these horses, do not say ban horse slaughter.

        • sheilaeinstein

          If we had horse slaughter here,they wouldn’t be sent to Mexico,where oversees and insures compassion.Cruelty laws are.non-existent,and they are killed in horrible manner.If we had slaughter here,it,could be supervised.Much better for the horses/donkeys.

          • Sue Carter

            Sorry, you are wrong sheilaaeinstein. The slaughter plants in Mexico where U.S. Horses are sent, are Modern USDA approved plants. They use the same captive bolt used here. Their laws governing cruelty are International laws that were EU approved. There are back alley- puntilla wielding slaughter houses that are equivalent to Florida illegal slaughter houses but that is not where truck loads of US horses go. By the way, have you ever seen Valley Meat horse slaughter Plant in Roswell NM? USDA approved hell hole?

          • dman

            Nice job lying to make your point. Valley Meat never processed horses because they never got approval for their waste water permit.

            USDA doesn’t approve horse slaughter plants in Mexico. The government cut off funding for USDA inspections.

        • Sue Carter

          Can you spell euthanasia?

          • dman

            People can’t afford euthanasia and the cost to dispose of the body.

  • Jojo

    Horse is a delicious and healthy beef alternative. This bill is dumb.

    • Sue Carter

      Healthy? You really need to look up equine drugs and human consumption? Deadly, is more like it.

  • Corey J. Gilson

    This issue is so unworthy of the federal government’s time that it’s sad.

  • Tracey Rouse

    People are doing tons of back yard breeding to make a quick buck ($700-$1,000) and the rescues are trying to help those poor animals, the rescues are overwhelmed. One if we stop slaughter then the back yard breeders will have no one to sell too. This will stop part of the problem of over breeding. Two this will put less stress on the rescues so they can help the one’s in need like people in financial difficulties and can’t afford to feed there animals anymore. Three this will also open the doors for more TB’s rescues to help with the race track horses. Four we need to make euthanization less expensive, there are tons of people sending there animals to auction because they don’t have the money or they don’t want to put there animals to sleep when they so desperately need to be put down. I could go on and on.. but bottom line stop the slaughter and the export of animals for slaughter and the world will be a better place yes the first two years will be hectic, but there will be a HUGE change!

    • steffers

      As far as back yard breeding is concerned- Tracey, you indirectly state a link to these breeders that they may be intentionally or unintentionally “supplying” these slaughterhouses. Some anti-slaughter facebook websites have already made the link like you have mentioned above to actual official breed organizations in the US as “suppliers” to slaughterhouses. Just look at the breed organizations who are against the anti slaughter movement and you will see what I mean. I do agree that we need to make euthanasia less expensive. In most jurisdictions, it is not legal for a vet to leave you with a lethal dose of euthanasia on hand “just in case” you need to euthanize your horse if a terrible accident were to happen. In addition, not all horse owners have a gun to euthanize their horse if need be. Know who to call if an emergency like this happens. Usually, the jurisdiction for horse euthanization in this particular situation (emergency euthanasia, no vet available, no gun available) is your local Livestock Board.

  • Sue Carter

    The issue is Adulterated Product Michael Fisher. Btw, I am not the “Sue” also posting. Pleasure , Racing, Show and grade horses have no documented history of drugs they have received in their lifetime.
    Slaughtering horses is akin to slaughtering dogs and cats for food. No history of drugs, drugs not approved for use in animals used for food. No difference, whatsoever.

    • I agree. In the US horses are pets just like dogs and cats and we do not consume our pets as food. That was not always true in the US. When Congress passed the first inspection Acts, people in some parts of the US ate horse meat. Today, people in many countries eat the meat of animals that we in the US deem unfit for human food. That is not true everywhere. If you go to Mexico, you can find horse meat on restaurant menus. Go to SE Asia and you can find dog and cat on restaurant menus. What people eat is driven by culture, not safety.

      Your statement about no documented history of drug received is not wholly accurate. Veterinarians are obligated to keep treatment records. Some states require producers to maintain records of drugs given to animals not used for human food. However, even if what you say were universally true, it does not excuse the user of the drug from complying with the restrictions on the label. Neither does selling the animal to another owner. Hiding a horses treatment history from a potential buyer is like hiding a car’s accident history for a potential buyer.

  • steffers

    Here is the actual text of the bill. It amends IMMIGRATION law. It does NOT amend laws pertaining to HORSES. The USDA has jurisdiction over HORSES. IMMIGRATION LAW has jurisdiction over ILLEGAL ALIENS. This law is essentially useless as far as it has NO jurisdiction over the animal in question, that being horses.
    This bill does not make SLAUGHTER illegal. It makes ILLEGAL ALIENS involved in SLAUGHTER subject to deportation. Big deal. This is nothing new under the sun. I am sure Donald Trump would agree with this bill. Before you go spouting off how great this or that bill or amendment is, and before you go posting articles to facebook in support of this bill, you should ACTUALLY READ THE BILL! Don’t get me wrong, I am against horse slaughter. But this bill says NOTHING ABOUT IT! It won’t solve anything. What about the Americans who are slaughtering these animals?

  • Judie Stein

    Horses have a unique talent for those of us who have opened our hearts. They provide awe and wonder, safety and warmth, they use their strength to build our nation and have protected our soldiers in war. They never kill another animal for food and indeed, when they eat grass they only chew off the tops and leave the roots – unlike cows that uproot the roots, Personally horses are one of the great joys in my life. I can count on them when I’m down and borrow a bit of freedom with them when I ride. They are a joy and a gift to this world and the thought of slaughtering them then eating them is a concept I can not understand that another person would condone.