Horse: Coming soon to a meat case near you?
November 30th, 2011
03:00 PM ET
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When President Barack Obama signed the spending bill into law on November 18, another piece of the legislation trotted in under the radar.

The Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2012, better known as the spending bill or H.R. 2112, allocated funding for several federal departments and agencies - including the U.S. Department of Agriculture - until September 2012.

And part of that bill lifted a 5-year-old ban on the slaughter of horses for meat.

In 2006, Congress "prohibited the use of federal funds to inspect horses destined for food, effectively prohibiting domestic slaughter" according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO).

Currently, there are no horse slaughterhouses in the U.S. If that were to change, the USDA assured it would conduct the appropriate inspections to ensure humane methods of handling the animals and humane slaughter in a statement.

While horses could soon be legally butchered, no money was actually allocated for horse meat inspections in the bill; ultimately, it'd be up to the USDA to find funding in its present shoestring budget.

The Humane Society has already published a Horse Slaughter Petition Act on its Web site, writing: "Horses in America are not raised as food animals; they are companions and the very symbols of our freedom. When horse slaughter did exist in the United States, USDA documentation confirms that it was a bloody and terrifying process."

And in a unexpected twist, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is in favor of the USDA's decision, supporting domestic horse slaughtering instead of shipping horses to Mexico or Canada for slaughter.

“It's quite an unpopular position we've taken,” PETA founder Ingrid Newkirk told the Christian Science Monitor. “There was a rush to pass a bill that said you can't slaughter them anymore in the United States. But the reason we didn't support it, which sets us almost alone, is the amount of suffering that it created exceeded the amount of suffering it was designed to stop.”

We have asked before if our readers would be willing to eat horse meat and were slightly surprised by the outcome:

I have and I enjoy it. 9.65%
I haven't, but I would. 28.38%
Only under dire circumstances 19.74%
I could never do that. 42.23%

And an Eatocracy poll from earlier this year shows a shift in perception toward horse meat consumption in the United States.

Do you think Americans will ever accept horse meat as part of their diet?

– No way. Never. 34.82%
– Only if there is no other option and we run out of other food sources 13.71%
– People don't really care that much what they put in their mouths, so yes 5.55%
– Possibly, but only after its health benefits are really proven 3.47%
– It'll take time, but why not? 14.3%
– It would be a huge success now if it were legal 4.11%
– People might try it as a novelty, but not as a staple – it'll always have a bit of a taboo 13.73%
– Maybe some food freaks will consider it a delicacy, but most people won't touch it 9.28%
– Other (please share below) 1.05%

With the possibility of horse meat on the market as early as December, has your opinion changed?

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Filed under: Animal Rights • Food Politics • Horse • News • PETA • Taboos

soundoff (786 Responses)
  1. Rachel VR

    Hello everyone,

    While I personally believe whether you eat horse meat or not is a personal decision, I think we should all recognize that there are many impacts to the horse industry that need to be evaluated. Horse slaughter can be a touchy and passionate issue. After researching for a paper, I have found I support the re-opening of horse slaughter houses; deciding that heavily regulated American slaughter houses will provide a better fate and more positive side effects than allowing horses to be exported over borders and subjecting them to especially grim fates there.

    Would you mind reading my blog at I would like to have your perspective.

    Rachel VR
    The Green Room at Iowa State University

    April 15, 2013 at 11:35 am |
    • Shawn E.

      Thanks Rachel, for your link. Horsemen, ranchers, and cattlemen have known all along what you have quantified in your blog.
      One very compelling value in Equine meat, is that the meat is at its finest value near life's end – not at the beginning like veal, or early like most other other animals. Any horse, that has lived a productive life, whether it has been for pleasure, riding, show, draft, and so on, would be valued for consumption only when life is near end.

      You put your pets down when they become lame, or in extreme pain, or for other merciful reasons, and with horses, that would result in that meat being put to use to feed carnivores used in scientific study in zoological parks, condor restoration programs, and yes, even human consumption.

      Your grandparents had horsemeat quite often during our 2 world wars, without a problem, and it wasn't until the mid 50's did it become out of vogue, and butchers dropped it.

      I have had Horsemeat. It was delicious. While I continue to reduce my intake of meat, striving for eating it sparingly, I would much prefer to dine on that which had already had a very productive life, and not on that which sole purpose was only to fill my plate.

      June 7, 2013 at 10:14 pm |
  2. sheila

    Europeans need to stay the hellout of American horses.All of you eat polluted horsemeat full of bite. Then years later cry cause you have cancer. Phenylbut a known carcinogen
    American horses full of it. Raise your own horses and eat them

    April 5, 2013 at 7:12 pm |
    • carpetride

      Humans are given BUTE by physicians still for arthritic conditions and pain. I have several family members that have taken the drug and no cancer after 25 + yrs so lets not all cry the horse meat has bute as very few of the horses that go to slaughter have ever seen a vet in their lives let along get treated with bute. Horses are livestock not pets.You don't have to eat it . Next will be the ban on all livestock and government feeding you whatever they want to feed us.

      May 30, 2013 at 11:11 am |
  3. Dan

    I'm all in favor of a stable food supply. I don't know why there are so many neigh-sayers. When my daughter gets engaged, we hope to serve a horsemeat platter for her bridle shower.

    February 18, 2013 at 1:36 pm |
    • Tom Durfee

      Please do eat up as much as you can. This guy got caught but then again they only test one sample in 50 tons.

      Here is the first warning to a horse killer from the FDA for falsified EID and the horse was positive for bute.
      Horse Owner Survey Shows NSAID Use Trends
      In a recent survey, 96% of respondents said they used nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to control the joint pain and inflammation in horses, and 82% administer them without always consulting their veterinarian. More than 1,400 horse owners and trainers were surveyed to better understand attitudes toward NSAIDs, in a project sponsored by Merial, the maker of Equioxx (firocoxib).

      March 29, 2013 at 9:11 am |
    • Phyllis LeCure Ryan

      People like you make me sick. You would stick anything in your mouth as far as I'm concerned. Horses are companion animals, not livestock. Hope you gag on your horsemeat and die.

      March 30, 2013 at 12:47 pm |
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