Horse News

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

Information supplied by Front Range Equine Rescue

Meat From Horses Not Raised For Food Presents Public Health Hazard

WASHINGTON (April 9, 2012)—Front Range Equine Rescue and The Humane Society of the United States filed a legal petition with the U.S. Department of Agriculture 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 for animals used for food under federal law and/or are potentially dangerous to humans. Using these horses for human consumption creates an unacceptable and illegal public health threat under the Federal Meat Inspection Act. The groups  sent a similar petition to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration last month.

Current USDA 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 cows, pigs, chickens and other animals raised for food, horses are swept up by a predatory industry from a variety of sources—former race horses, carriage horses, family ponies and others who are routinely given drugs and medications not fit for human consumption.

“The slaughter of American horses for meat is a tragic and cruel end for horses and it is a grave threat to food safety,” said Hilary Wood, president of FRER. “Horses in our country are not raised as food animals. They are routinely treated with dozens of drugs which USDA knows are unsafe for human consumption. These iconic animals should never have their lifetime of service ended on a slaughterhouse kill floor.”

The petition requests that USDA certify all horses and horse meat from American horses as “Condemned” and thus unfit for human consumption. This action is especially timely, because in November 2011, Congress chose not to renew a ban on funding federal inspectors at horse slaughter plants in the United States, even though a similar provision had been part of the agriculture department’s spending bill 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.

The USDA 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 exported for 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 has documented the abuse and misery horses suffered at slaughterhouses in the U.S. before the last remaining plants closed in 2007.
•    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.

Click (HERE) to read Petition for Rulemaking for both USDA and FDA

9 replies »

  1. this needs to be passed to protect our faithful horses. it will eliminate nearly all the torment suffered by our horses and the risk for sickness to anyone consuming their tainted meat. Dear Lord, please let this become the law of the land. Thank you, In Jesus’ name;AMEN!


  2. A very viable argcuement , but also Americans do not eat their Allies and Companions whom they consider to be the very essence of Freedom !!!!! Why would anyone want to eat the most Beautiful gift given to us to appreicate , honor and care for ???????/ They Balance the eco-system there are many reasons they belong here protected by us !!!! When have you ever seen any other animal put a smile on the face of a child that has never smiled before ???????/ They can heal a troubled mind and soul , give a person back the will to live????? Show what freedom is without a doubt , and somebody else gives them the tools to servive the worst conditions for a clorified reason they are SPECIAL indeed !!!!They are here for more reasons then there is space to write them…………………………………


    • Arlene, Your statement is so true! Horses are the best therapy any human, regardless of age, could ever imagine or want, right up there next to our other companion & therapy animals, like our dogs & cats. The ONLY difference is that these special creatures are too large to actually get to live in our homes with us. But, because of that, they give people, both children & adults, the will & determination to get up, get moving, & go to be with these animals who mean so much to them. They are therapy for the disabled in mind or body, they are therapy & best friends for the lonely &/or broken-hearted, they give love & happiness, & smiles to the faces of those who are sad, they give hope & inspiration to artists & writers, they make everyday people like myself smile just by being in their presence, or by petting their velvety soft noses. At the stable my daughter rides at, there’s a special horse that happens to be completely blind, who goes on trail rides regularly with his owner, himself a stroke victim & survivor. Together, they were & are eachother’s biggest support, best friends, & therapy for eachother, they help eachother & trust eachother. There was even an article in our local newspaper about them last week. No horse deserves such a tragic, hateful, painful, fearful, horrid death as a slaughterhouse!! I believe all animals, but most especially the horse, are truly special gifts from God above to humans. They have a special place in our hearts & our lives, & that does not include being served on dinner plates!!


  3. A very factual petition. Our government is committing a criminal act in allowing KNOWN unsafe meat to be exported around the globe. There will be eventual consequences for these actions at the cost of the tax payer of whom most have no clue this practice is even in place.


  4. HSUS and Frontline Rescue have hit the critical nail on the head for those who are blind or indifferent to the suffering of horses. HSUS and Frontline have raised the flag on the ethical issues that have gone largely ignored by members of Congress?

    How does someone like Representative Jack Kingston whose state includes Emory University, Georgia Tech, the CDC, CNN, Turner, an International Airport, not to mention all the many international and multi-national corporations. Many, many citizens of the state that Representative Kingston represents have families in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. While a few families in these foreign countries may consume horse, no family wants to eat any food that is going to kill or debilitate their child or another family member.

    It is a moral and ethical failure to ignore the risk that these drugs pose to human health. Horse slaughter is not humane, it is not humane euthanasia, it is not an acceptable solution for a humane problem. Horse slaughter is about food production. If that food is toxic, we have a moral obligation to neither produce it or sell it. We know the effects banned substances have on humans because many of them were first used to treat illnesses in humans, and as a result of what was learned during the time they were on the market, determined to be too toxic for human health to be used in food animals.

    Do parents in Belgium suffer less than American parents if they have a child who spends most weeks in hospitals getting blood transfusions because her own body no longer produces bone marrow? What about the thousands of farm workers in Central America or India dying from kidney disease from causes not yet known? Did they eat our bad horse meat for years or get the bad cows? Do we just ship this toxic meat to the few Asian and Middle Eastern countries who are less aware than than the Europeans and Canadians are about the danger of US horse meat?

    How does the decision to sell tainted horse meat stamped “USDA inspected and found safe” affect the market for other meat produced in the US? If Congress has few qualms about approving funds to inspect meat known to be widely contaminated with toxins that will kill and disable consumers, thus changing the quality of life for an unknowable number of our fellow human beings, can we trust Congress, the FDA, USDA, or the EPA to put consumer safety and public health ahead of profit or power in other areas of food safety?

    As R.T. has posted on this site, the issue of horse slaughter is not about right or left—its about right and wrong. Let’s just hope and pray that there are people in Congress and our government agencies who have not forgotten this and have the courage and political will to do something about it.


  5. OH GOOD LORD WHAT IS OUR WORLD COMING TO??? It was about 2 months ago I read on the internet that the Chinese have found a way to “safely” recycle the protein in their sewage for human consumption. They have labeled it Hydrogenated Soylent Paste…coming to a grocery store near YOU..gak!!!!


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