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Bipartisan "SAFE" Legislation Introduced to Congress to Outlaw US Horse Slaughter on Food Safety Grounds - The Horse Owner's Resource

Bipartisan "SAFE" Legislation Introduced to Congress to Outlaw US Horse Slaughter on Food Safety Grounds

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Legislation was introduced today in both the US Senate and House of Representatives to outlaw both the slaughter of horses in the United States and to export horse meat from the United States. The legislation should be available shortly for study, but in the meantime, The Jurga Report would like to share an announcement of the legislation from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).

Legislators from both the Republican and Democratic parties met with humane organization representatives in Washington today to unveil the legislation. Unfortunately, the press conference coincided with the announcement that Pope Francis I had been chosen to lead the worldwide Catholic Church.

More news will follow, but in the meantime, here is a shortened version of the ASPCA's lengthy press release announcing the launch. Read the full press release on the ASPCA website.

Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act prohibits cruel export and slaughter of drugged horses for human consumption

WASHINGTON, D.C.?The?ASPCA? (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals?), the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI), The Humane Society of the United States (The HSUS) and the Center for Science in the Public Interest applaud U.S. Sens. Mary Landrieu, D-La., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Reps. Patrick Meehan, R-Pa., and Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., for introducing bipartisan legislation that would stop the inhumane killing of American horses for human consumption and prohibit the transport of horses across the U.S. border for slaughter in Canada and Mexico.

The Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act would prevent the introduction of horse slaughter operations in the U.S., end the current export of American horses for slaughter abroad, and protect the public from consuming toxic horse meat. Last year, more than 160,000 American horses were sent to a cruel death by a grisly foreign industry that produces unsafe food for consumers.

Horses are raised for use in show, sport, work and recreation in the U.S. and are regularly administered drugs that are expressly prohibited by current federal regulations for use in animals intended for human consumption. For example, a common pain reliever routinely administered to all types of horses, Phenylbutazone, is known to cause potentially fatal human diseases. There is no known safe level for consumption of these drug residues in horse meat.

Last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced its plan to process an application for inspecting horse slaughter at a New Mexico facility. If the application is approved, Valley Meat Company LLC will be the first facility in the U.S. to slaughter horses for human consumption since 2007, when the few remaining plants closed and Congress chose to suspend funding for any further horse meat inspections. This surprising move toward a resumption of domestic horse slaughter comes in the wake of the scandal unfolding in the European Union, where consumers have been alarmed by the discovery of horse meat mislabeled as beef in prepared food products ranging from lasagna to meatballs.

The federal government could potentially spend millions of taxpayer dollars to open new horse slaughter plants at a time when spending cuts associated with the sequester could curtail food safety inspections for U.S. meat products. Additionally, if horse slaughter plants are opened in the U.S., it will be more difficult to prevent this kind of comingling between horse meat and beef products that has occurred in Europe.

In addition to the public health concerns associated with the consumption of horse meat, horse slaughter is inherently inhumane.? 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. These equines suffer incredible abuse even before they arrive at the slaughterhouse, often transported for more than 24 hours at a time without food, water or rest, in dangerously overcrowded trailers where the animals are often seriously injured or even killed in transit. The majority of horses killed for human consumption are young, healthy animals who could go on to lead productive lives with loving owners.

Past congressional actions on horse slaughter have demonstrated a strong, bipartisan desire to prohibit the killing of horses for human consumption, but Congress has failed to permanently end the export of live horses to neighboring countries for slaughter. Numerous state legislatures have already acted to stop horse slaughter, resulting in the closure of the last three remaining horse slaughter plants in the country in 2007. Most recently, New Jersey enacted a measure prohibiting the slaughter of horses for human consumption, as well as the sale and transport of horse meat for human consumption. The SAFE Act was introduced with a strong list of bipartisan original cosponsors.

The passage of this legislation is a priority for the nation's leading animal welfare organizations, as well as many veterinarians and equine groups across the country, including the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association and Veterinarians for Equine Welfare. A January 2012 national?poll commissioned by the ASPCA confirms that 80 percent of American voters oppose the slaughter of horses for human consumption.

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