“Any drop in horse meat sales is most likely attributable to it no longer being sold as beef…”
The drop is a reflection of the number of horses going from the U.S. to Mexico for slaughter. That number plummeted 62% in the first quarter of 2013 following a steady two-year increase, USDA figures show.
A bipartisan majority of both houses of Congress voted to defund horse slaughter inspections as part of the lengthy 2006 agricultural appropriations bill, but the USDA privately offered fee-for-service inspections to plant operators to get around the ban–a maneuver that kept them operating for another year, but was later found to violate U.S. law by a Federal District Court judge.
At the same time, a 1949 ban on slaughtering horses in Texas was upheld in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, while Illinois passed a statewide ban, making slaughter illegal in both states. The City of Kaufman, Texas, too, took legal action against a local horse slaughter plant, Dallas Crown, which was found to be a non-conforming use and a public nuisance by the city’s Board of Adjustments and ordered closed.
By September 2007, all three U.S. slaughter plants for horses had shut down. They later resumed operations over U.S. borders.
U.S. horses were slaughtered in greater numbers in Canada and Mexico from 2007 onward, with the meat exported to the European Union (EU) and Russia.
But all that changed in late January of this year, when the public learned of horse meat hidden inside Burger King Whoppers, IKEA meatballs, Buitoni frozen lasagna and other prepared foods across Europe and in the rest of the world. The adulteration of beef with horse meat had gone undetected for years, authorities say.
“We have been watching the numbers of U.S. horses slaughtered closely, because we knew they would tell us how much of the meat from our horses was being sold as beef,” states John Holland, President of the Equine Welfare Alliance.
How much? A great deal of it, Holland says…(CONTINUED)
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