Federal Legislation Would Ban Export Of Horses For Slaughter, Protect Public From “Toxic Meat”

While U.S. consumers have been sitting fairly pretty over here during Europe’s horsemeat scare, the hullabaloo has served to stir up some action stateside as well. New federal legislation is seeking to ban the export of American horses for slaughter, reinstate a ban on slaughtering them here and also protect the public from eating “toxic” horsemeat.

In June 2012 a House committee had voted to end funding for inspections of horse slaughterhouses in the U.S. but not much has happened since then. This new measure, the Safeguard American Food Exports Act, or SAFE, brings that debate back into public light.

The bill has sponsors on both sides of the aisle and would outlaw killing American horses for human consumption as well as forbid businesses from trucking them across the borders to be slaughtered in Mexico and Canada, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Fans of the bill say tens of thousands of American horses are killed every year across the borders, producing food that is potentially unsafe for consumption because of drugs used to treat them that could still be in their systems.

Time’s a ticking for opponents of the proposed legislation, including a slaughterhouse in New Mexico that wants to get into the horse business. The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced last week that it was going to process an application for inspecting horse slaughter at the plant.

The owner of that company told the L.A. Times previously that he was annoyed at having to watch truckloads of American horses go to Mexico when he could have had a booming business right here in the states.

“I’ve seen 130,000 horses a year on their way to Mexico — they go right through our backyard — and I wanted to tap into the market,” he told The Times. “I could have hired 100 people by now. Everyone in our community agrees we need this type of service. And I’m tired of waiting.”

He insists that he’d kill the horses humanely, but animal rights advocates say there’s no such thing in the world of horse slaughter.

“Horse slaughter is inherently inhumane,” the Humane Society of the United States said in a statement. “The methods used to kill horses rarely result in quick, painless deaths, as horses often endure repeated stuns or blows and sometimes remain conscious during their slaughter and dismemberment.”

Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-Pa.), one of the bill’s sponsors, agrees that American horses are in danger.

“This is a bill whose time has come,” Meehan said at a news conference. “Until a ban is in place, every horse is just one bad sale away from being sent to slaughter.”

Federal legislation would ban slaughter of U.S. horses [Los Angeles Times]