Horse Health

Humane Groups Petition FDA to Block Companion, Working and Show Horses from Being Slaughtered for Human Consumption

Information supplied by the Humane Society of the United States and Front Range Equine Rescue

Meat From Horses Not Raised For Food Presents Public Health Hazard

photo by Terry Fitch

(March 27, 2012)— Front Range Equine Rescue and The Humane Society of the United States
filed a legal petition with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to prevent former companion,
working, competition and wild horses from being used as human food. The petition alleges that
the drugs given to these horses throughout their lives are banned by FDA and/or potentially
dangerous to humans. Using these horses for human consumption creates an unacceptable and
illegal public health threat under the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.

Current FDA rules do not require sufficient testing or documentation to ensure that former
companion and other non-livestock horses slaughtered for human food do not contain or have not
been administered prohibited substances. The “killer-buyers” who acquire these horses typically
have no concern or knowledge about the horses’ prior history before shipping them off to
inhumane deaths in slaughter facilities. Unlike cattle, pigs, poultry, and other livestock, which
are raised on the farm, horses are swept up by a predatory industry from a variety of sources—
former race horses, carriage horses, family ponies, and others which are routinely given drugs
and medications not fit for human consumption.

The FDA does not adequately regulate this flow of potentially toxic meat, despite the human
health and animal welfare risks associated with it. The petition documents more than 110
examples of drugs and other substances which are or should be prohibited in food-producing
horses, describes the horrible way in which horses die at slaughterhouses, and outlines the
environmental devastation caused by horse slaughter plants in local communities.


  • More than 100,000 American horses are sent to slaughter each year, mainly for consumption in Europe and Asia.
  • The slaughter pipeline is horribly cruel, with many of the horses suffering immensely during transport and the misguided and often repeated attempts to render them unconscious. USDA documented the abuse and misery horses suffered at slaughterhouses in the U.S.
  • Virtually all the horses used for meat spend most of their lives as work, competition or sport horses, companion animals, or wild horses.
  • During their lives, horses who end up at slaughter are given a constant regimen of drugs and other substances which are either illegal for food animals, or are potentially dangerous to people who eat them.
  • Under the current rules and regulations, there is no safeguard in place that can protect against the consumption of unsafe toxins in horse meat.
  • Consumers do not know of the inherent dangers because there is no control over the drug residues.

“The slaughter of American horses for meat is an unnecessary and tragic end for these icons of
our nation’s history,” said Hilary Wood, president of FRER. “Horses are treated with many
different drugs throughout their lives because horse owners don’t expect they could end up as
meat. Horses often have many uses during their lives, from show rings to trail riding to therapy
programs. Their lives should not end with an arduous journey to a terrifying death to be turned
into an expensive and potentially toxic dinner.”

The petition requests that FDA certify all horses and horse meat from American horses as
“unqualified” for human consumption. This action is especially timely because in November
2011, Congress authorized the inspection of horses for slaughter in America, something that had
been prohibited since 2006. Businesses looking to start up American horse slaughterhouses have
been actively promoting horse meat, even though the animals were never intended to be food.
These businesses and their misguided investors are proceeding despite their awareness that
virtually every U.S. horse who ends up at slaughter has been exposed to a plethora of dangerous
drugs, many of which are specifically outlawed for animals intended for food.

15 replies »

  1. I didn’t think ANY horses were raised for food ???? How can you use this as part of your position argument to stop ANY horses form being slaughtered .According to your categories that companion, show, working and race horses cant be slaughtered… this leaves carriage horses and wild horses. This is with regard to your headline ” Horses not raised for food present public health

    Who the hell raises horses for food? Maybe you meant to say NO horses are raised for food SO they present a health hazard to the public ?”

    I am sorry I do not understand this and would really like some light shed on your comments? I need to fully comprehend what you are stating

    Why would not add wild horses also to your petition to the FDA?

    Thank you


    Sarah West Victoria BC Canada


    • i happen to know one of america’s top 10 horse-trainers that knowingly sells her prized paints to foreign born people here for slaughter. she says; i don’t care if they kill them, as long as i’m invited to dinner! i have choice words for this freak i cannot say here. this is right in our own towns!


  2. It just must be stopped. Stop the cruelty. I know for a fact that most of these horses are used up race horses and the drugs given to them would make you sick !!! Lots of the grey horses are cancer carriers and to eat that ??? OMG !!! STOP THE SLAUGHTER !!!!!!!


  3. I don’t understand. Exactly what kind of drugs are wild horses given throughout their lifetime? I thought that they were in fact “wild”?


      • Yeah…supposedly.

        And if that were the case, why so many dead one’s at stampedes and shot term holding? God only knows what goes on with long term holding.


    • BLM has stated wild horses are all routinely given wormers, vaccines and other medications (all dangerous and toxic for humans) just like domestic horses get after being rounded up or sent to holding facilities. Nearly all the wild mares are given fertility suppressants that are untested, are even now still being tested on wild horses. We have no idea what kinds of effects these would have on humans. We also do not know which of these dangerous compounds a new adopter or owner uses on a wild horse who is later sold and ends up at slaughter. This makes ALL American horse meat, domestic or wild, unsafe for human consumption, period.

      I applaud the HSUS and FRER for making this demand. It is high time that our Congress brings America into a state of balance with our own ethics. Americans are hypocrites right now as we castigate and punish China and other foreign countries that export unsafe food and product to the US when we are allowing exactly the same as long as horse slaughter and export for slaughter is allowed by law in this country.

      Don’t we all remember being on the receiving end of toxic, sometimes fatally toxic, dog food, dog treats, children’s toys, gypsum wallboard imports? Well, America is just as unethical and nasty as the countries that allowed that dangerous trash to come onto US shores under the guise of “sending us useful products”. It’s long past time for this abhorrent “business” to end in America.


      • My understanding about PZP is that the equines are not eligible for EU slaughter.

        As to what the BLM sez…..I wouldn’t bet a dollar on the lies and spewtum it/they put out.

        All I know is their numbers are garbage with regard to stampedes, deaths, acreage reduced, population, etc. DOI and USDA are a pack of pathological liars.


  4. How is it a being that brought humanity from the brink of darkness and into the advancement of civilization treated so terribly. I think we as a society have become to use to our cars and trucks. We no longer offer the respect to the animals who once dominated our daily lives and country.

    Those who wish to destroy the American symbol of freedom and grace are the same ones who’d sell us to the Chinese, and the Saudi’s. They have no vested interest in these horses. To them they see them as silly ‘dumb’ animals ‘white’ girls obsess over.

    I fight the meat war by being vegan and leading by example.


  5. I think this is really big news.. to have the power of HSUS finally take the FDA to task… either a horse is a food animal or not! And if a food animal, can you imagine the magnitude of having all horse owners documenting all supplements, medications, etc ever given to their horses from birth??? That is not going to happen… and the racing industry not being able to use Bute??? That won’t happen. So just BAN Horse Slaughter once and for all.


  6. And please tell me about the little burros !!! They are being shipped off to slaughter as well. I sure didn’t see any mention of them! Are they classified under “horses?” Quote from up there…”All classes of horses are covered under this petition.” So, are our burros included???


  7. It gives a horrible feeling, that in this country, there is a group, who is behaving like the NAZIS. . That group is under the name, ” BLM”. By Capturing the Wild Horses , and transporting them [without water or food] , to be SLAUGHTERED!!!,, That is exactly, what the ” NAZIS” did to the Jews during World War One. There are NO WORDS for these crimes. I wonder about the people, who are eating the flesh of our Horses, if they knew, would they still eat them? SHAME on the BLM, SHAME SHAME SHAME. Thank you ALL, who are fighting and working for the Horses. You are the Voice of the Voiceless..


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