Horse Meat may be off the Menu in Italy

By Nick Pisa in Rome

Horse meat, one of Italy‘s most popular culinary delicacies, is under threat from a cross party proposal to ban its sale

Italy is the largest consumer of horsemeat in Europe with more than 48,000 metric tonnes eaten every year and it is a common dish among youngsters because of its high iron content.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation 213,000 horses are slaughtered in Italy every year but now politicians from all parties are considering banning its slaughter and sale.

Francesca Martini, a minster with the Italian health ministry and a member of the ruling Right-wing coalition, has put forward the bill, arguing that the “dignity of horses should be respected”.

The motion is already on the desk of the Italian parliament’s culture commission and has won considerably cross party support with opposition centre-Left MPs also backing it.

Among those leading the call for a ban is Italy’s agriculture minister Luca Zaia who says horses should not be eaten and instead “considered just like cats and dogs”.

Mr Zaia said:”I have always been against the slaughter and consumption of horse meat. Horses are fine animals and should be treated as such, they should not be eaten.”

His support has angered people who live in his home region of Veneto, which covers Venice and Verona, where horse meat is a culinary delicacy and features in several dishes.

Horse meat is used in a stew called pastissada (typical of Verona), served as horse or colt steaks, as carpaccio, or made into bresaola.

Horse fat is used in recipes such as “pezzetti di cavallo” (pieces of horsemeat) and another favourite dish is horse in a bed of rocket, dressed with olive oil and fresh lemon juice.

Also in Veneto, horsemeat sausages called “salsiccia di equino” or salami, and thin strips of horse meat called “sfilacci” are sold and it has 8 per cent of the country’s national consumption.

According to figures from the Italian health department the average national consumption is around a kilo of horsemeat per year per person.

Italian newspaper websites carrying the report were flooded with comments from angry readers in areas such as Veneto where horsemeat is popular.

One person in Venice wrote: “Why is the government trying to abolish something that is buried in the roots of Italian culture? If it is banned it will just be driven underground and there will be a thriving black market.”

While another in Verona said: “Horse meat is part of the culinary culture of my city. Politicians are always talking about the loss of traditions but they are quite happy to get rid of this one when it suits them.”

However the proposal was welcomed by the Italian federation for equine sports and animal cruelty charities who said it was “legislation that had been long overdue”.

Horse meat has been a delicacy in Italy since the Roman times although during the Middle Ages Pope Gregory III did describe its consumption as “abominable” but his calls for it to be shunned were ignored by hungry peasants.

In 1928 a law was introduced by Benito Mussolini‘s Fascist government that only specialist horse butchers could sell equine meat and they could not stock other cuts.

In order to meet the high demand for horse meat in Italy more than 20,000 horses are imported from Poland and Eastern Europe every year.

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8 comments

  1. I personally do not want to eat horsemeat but what can we do about countries that do.Our horses must stay in the US but we can’t really controll other coiuntries.Cultures are different so how do we
    balance between being the horse police and letting other countries do what they are goiing to do
    anyway.Horse slaughter was banned in the US but horses are still transported to Mexico and Canada.Things got worse in a way because there is a feeling of security when there isn’t.There’s still the shady killer buyer ,so how can we ban these illegal goings on.

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    • We can make SURE they know and UNDERSTAND that we have no tracking ability here like they have in Europe to insure purity of the meat from horses. American horses are constantly coming in contact with substances that are clearly marked on the label: Not for use in horses intended for food.

      If they all actually “got it” how dangerous our horses are to eat, I’m sure they would gladly give up eating OUR horses at least.

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    • I think you have misread the information.
      “According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation 213,000 horses are slaughtered in Italy every year but now politicians from all parties are considering banning its slaughter and sale.
      Francesca Martini, a minster with the Italian health ministry and a member of the ruling Right-wing coalition, has put forward the bill, arguing that the “dignity of horses should be respected”.
      The United States is NOT involved in Italy’s governental decisions.

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  2. When i grew up, here in canada, we never even came across eating horsemeat. Now and days, its gotten out of hand.. The amount of horses killed a year is soooo high? WHY is this? Yous in europe, italy, japan, ect,,, Go find your own meat! Horses for slaughter, should not enter or leave boarders. period. Auctions say, in america, once the horses pass the boarders, its not our problem, anymore,,well,, who is he to say that.?? In Quebec, there are 2 plants and the workers there are unskilled, cruel and very discusting,, they make horses suffer, with multy miss aimed shots to the horse,s face! You think thats funny?? We care for our animals, and horses are not livestock in our books… End the brutal killing for one,s tastebuds!!! Shame on all of you countries who eat horse-meat and one day, you,ll be poisined enough, you,ll get the message,, don,t be fooled by C.F.I.A,,, all a bunch of lies….lies….lies….just for $$$ GET IT??

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  3. Does anyone know what ended up happening with this? I just became an Italian citizen and I was trying to look it up but had no luck..

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  4. I also have a friend who came from Italy. It sure was a delicacy until they found that American horse meat which was specifically sold as American Quarter contained cancer causing chemicals. No horses should be slaughtered anywhere especially in the United States. Here is another foreign entity that wants to rob us of one our most precious gifts. Like I have said since we closed the House of Horrors in Illinois, Go Back to Your Own Countries and Stay out of Ours! We don’t want your kind of business. And we don’t appreciate you taking any of our equine friends to be served up to anyones dinner table!

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