Horse slaughter

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Horse slaughter is the practice of slaughtering horses to produce meat for consumption. Humans have long consumed horse meat; the oldest known cave art, the 30,000-year-old paintings in France's Chauvet Cave, depict horses with other wild animals hunted by humans.[1] Equine domestication is believed to have begun to raise horses for human consumption.[2] The practice has become controversial in some parts of the world due to several concerns: whether horses are (or can be) managed humanely in industrial slaughter; whether horses not raised for consumption yield safe meat, and whether it is appropriate to consume a companion animal.

Horse-meat production (2009)[3]
Country Tons per year
Mexico 78,000
Argentina 57,000
Kazakhstan 55,000
Mongolia 38,000
Kyrgyzstan 25,000
United States 25,000[4]
Australia 24,000
Brazil 21,000
Canada 18,000
Poland 18,000
Italy 16,000*
Romania 14,000
Chile 10,000
France 7,500
Uruguay 8,000
Senegal 9,500
Colombia 6,000
Spain 5,000*
* Includes donkeys.

Methods[edit]

In most countries where horses are slaughtered for food, they are processed in industrial abattoirs similarly to cattle. Typically, a penetrating captive bolt gun or gunshot is used to render the animal unconscious. The blow (or shot) is intended to kill the horse instantly or stun it,[5] with exsanguination (bleeding out) conducted immediately afterwards to ensure death.[6] Saleable meat is removed from the carcass, with the remains rendered for other commercial uses.

According to equine-welfare advocates, the physiology of the equine cranium is such that neither the penetrating captive bolt gun nor gunshots are reliable means of killing (or stunning) a horse; the animal may be only paralyzed. Unless properly checked for vital signs, a horse may remain conscious and experience pain during skinning and butchering.[7][8][9]

History[edit]

Horse meat was a traditional protein source during food shortages, such as the early-20th-century World Wars. Before the advent of motorized warfare, campaigns usually resulted in tens of thousands of equine deaths; troops and civilians ate the carcasses, since troop logistics were often unreliable. Troops of Napoleon's Grande Armée killed almost all of their horses during their retreat from Moscow to feed themselves. In his biography, Fifty Years a Veterinary Surgeon, Fredrick Hobday wrote that when his British Army veterinary field hospital arrived in Cremona from France in 1916 it was the subject of a bidding war (won by Milanese horse-meat canners) for salvageable equine carcasses.

During World War II, the less-motorized Axis troops lost thousands of horses in combat and during the unusually-cold Russian winters. Malnourished soldiers consumed the animals, often shooting weaker horses as needed. In his 1840s book, London Labour and the London Poor, Henry Mayhew wrote that horse meat was priced differently in Paris and London.[10]

Controversy[edit]

In some countries, horses are perceived as companion animals or as deserving of humane consideration because of their roles as working animals and for sport. This perception may be greater in countries where horses are not bred or raised for food. According to a 2012 UK MORI survey, 50 percent of respondents in France, 51 percent in Belgium and 58 percent in Italy thought that it acceptable to eat horses.[11]

Several equine and animal-welfare organizations oppose slaughter or support a ban on horse slaughter,[12][13][14] but other animal organizations and animal-agriculture groups support the practice. According to livestock-slaughter expert Temple Grandin, horse slaughter can be humane with proper facility design and management.[15] Included in animal-agriculture groups supporting horse slaughter are organizations representing the interests of traditional food-animal industries such as cattle, sheep and pigs, who are concerned that banning any animal for slaughter will lead to outlawing all meat production.[citation needed]

Stolen horses have been sold to auctions, where they are bought by "kill buyers" and shipped to slaughter. Auctions enable horses to be sold without owner consent, by theft[16] or misappropriation.[17] According to California Livestock and Identification Bureau statistics, the 1998 ban on horse slaughter in California was followed by a 34-percent decrease in horse theft.[18][19]

Long-distance transport[edit]

One concern about the welfare of horses destined for slaughter is the long distances the horses are sometimes transported to a slaughterhouse. In 2013, 32,841 horses were slaughtered in Italy; of these, 32,316 were transported from other EU states.[20]

United States[edit]

Food safety[edit]

Horses in the United States are not bred or raised for meat. Nearly all equine medications and treatments are labeled, "Not for horses intended for human consumption." Meat from American horses raises a number of potential health concerns, primarily due to the routine use of medications banned in food animals and a lack of tracking of such use. Unlike livestock raised for food (where all potential medications are tested for withdrawal times and vigilantly tracked), there is no way to guarantee which medications have been used in a particular horse. During November and December 2010 inspections of EU-regulated plants in Mexico which slaughtered horses for human consumption, the European Commission Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) uncovered violations.[21] Most American horses destined for slaughter are transported to EU-regulated plants in Mexico and Canada. Horses, unlike traditional food animals in the United States, are not raised (or medicated) with the intent of becoming human food. Because American horses are not intended for the human food chain, they often receive medications banned by the Food and Drug Administration for use in food animals.[22] Concern also exists that horse meat will be mixed with ground-beef products[23] and sold improperly labeled in the US, as occurred during the European 2013 horse meat scandal.

Before 2007, three major equine slaughterhouses operated in the United States: Dallas Crown in Kaufman, Texas; Beltex Corporation in Fort Worth, and Cavel International in DeKalb, Illinois. All were Belgian-owned, with Multimeat also having French and Dutch ownership; Velda owned Cavel, Multimeat owned Beltex and Chevideco owned Dallas Crown. The slaughterhouses exported about $42 million in horse meat annually, with most going overseas. About 10 percent of their output was sold to zoos to feed their carnivores, and 90 percent was shipped to Europe and Asia for human consumption. Although the House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to end horse slaughter in 2006, the bill never came to a vote before the Senate. The two Texas horse-slaughter plants in were ordered closed in 2007, after protracted battles with local municipalities who objected to their financial drain on the municipalities (no tax revenue), ditches of blood, dismembered foals and noxious odors in residential neighborhoods.[24] Later that year, the Cavel plant was closed after local community action.[25]

The director of equine protection of the Humane Society of the United States reported seizing large numbers of horses, and equine-rescue facilities were taking in more horses than ever despite a record number of horses shipped to Canada and Mexico for slaughter.[26][27][28] The equine market was saturated by increased breeding.[29]

In March 2012, Wyoming state Representative Sue Wallis proposed a new horse-meat processing plant in Missouri or Arkansas. According to Wallis, she had six million dollars to invest and support from Belgian horse-meat buyers.[30] In May Wallis sought local investors in Wyoming to help finance the plant, which she said could cost between two and six million dollars and would process up to 200 horses a day for sale abroad and to ethnic markets in the US.[31] In 2013 the Obama Administration proposed the removal of funding for USDA inspection of horse-slaughter plants in the 2014 fiscal year, which would prevent horse slaughter.[32]

Legal proceedings[edit]

Efforts have been made to create a federal law ending the slaughter of American horses for human consumption.[33] On September 8, 2006, the House of Representatives passed a bill which would have made killing or selling American horses for human consumption illegal in the United States; however, it was not passed by the Senate.[34]

Two bills, H.R. 503 in the House and S. 1915 in the Senate, were introduced in the 109th Congress to prevent the slaughter of horses for human consumption. H.R. 503 was passed by the House on September 7, 2006, by a recorded vote of 263–146.[35] S. 1915 was read twice, referred to committee and not voted on.[36] Both bills died at the end of the 109th Congress, and were reintroduced in the 110th Congress on January 17, 2007 as H.R. 503 and S. 311.[37] S. 311 was reported out but not taken up for a vote.[38] The bills were not reintroduced in the 111th Congress. Two bills were introduced in the 112th Congress: H.R. 2966 and S. 1176, the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act of 2011. The latter was introduced on July 9, 2011 by Senators Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) to amend the Horse Protection Act of 1970 (15 U.S.C. ch. 44) to prohibit the shipping, transporting, moving, delivering, receiving, possessing, purchasing, selling, or donation of horses and other equines to be slaughtered for human consumption.[39].

Transport of horses for slaughter[edit]

Although the Department of Transportation has officers at enforcement points to ensure the proper transportation of horses, it has no jurisdiction beyond transportation. Horses that "are severely lame or disabled are not accepted at the plants".[citation needed]

A 1998 USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service survey to determine welfare problems during equine transport to slaughter found severe problems in 7.7 percent of the transported horses; most arose from owner neglect or abuse, rather than transportation. The report recommended fining individuals who transport horses unfit for travel.[40] However, despite those recommendations, in an April 2011 report on equine transport violations, of 458 violators and 280 cases reported since February 1, 2002, 51 violators were fined a total of $781,350. The highest fines imposed were $230,000.00 on Charles Carter of Colorado, $162,000 on Leroy Baker of Ohio and $77,825 on Bill Richardson of Texas.[41] A 2007–2015 investigation by Animals' Angels found overcrowded pens, aggression, rough handling, transport with no rest, untreated injuries and no water or food for more than the 28 hours required by law.[42] On February 22, 2007, Representative Robert Molaro introduced HB1711 to the Illinois General Assembly to prohibit the transport of horses into the state for the sole purpose of slaughter for human consumption.

US Department of Agriculture regulations govern the transportation of horses,[43] but the USDA has said that it does not have the resources for enforcement.[44] In 2009, a bill which would have prohibited the interstate transport of live horses in double-deck horse trailers passed out of committee in the House of Representatives and was placed on the Union Calendar.[44] The bill died at the end of the 111th Congress.

On November 18, 2011, the ban on the slaughter of horses for meat was lifted as part of the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2012.[45] However, it was reestablished by Congress on January 14, 2014 with the passage of the Fiscal Year 2014 Omnibus Appropriations Act.[46]

On March 12, 2013 Senators Landrieu and Graham introduced S. 541, the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act of 2013. The SAFE Act amends the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to deem equine (horses and other members of the Equidae family) parts an unsafe food additive or animal drug. The SAFE Act also prohibits the knowing sale or transport of equines (or equine parts) in interstate or foreign commerce for human consumption. An identical version of the bill, H.R. 1094, was introduced in the House of Representatives by Representatives Patrick Meehan (R-PA) and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL).[47]

Judicial rulings[edit]

On January 19, 2007, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans overturned a lower court's 2006 ruling that a 1949 Texas law banning horse slaughter for the purpose of selling the meat for food was invalid because it had been repealed by another statute and was preempted by federal law. A panel of three 5th Circuit judges disagreed, saying that the Texas law still stood and was enforceable.[48] On March 6, 2007, without comment or dissent, the 19 judges of the 5th Circuit rejected a petition by three foreign-owned slaughter plants seeking a full court review of the panel's January 19 decision.[49]

United Kingdom[edit]

In 2007, the Daily Mail reported that up to 5,000 horses were slaughtered annually in the United Kingdom—not for domestic consumption but for export, primarily to France.[50] According to the article, UK law "effectively forbids" the export of live animals for slaughter.[50] The RSPCA has listed horses as animals exported from Ramsgate since the port's 2011 reopening for live-animal export.[51]

In the European 2013 horse meat scandal, foods advertised as containing beef were found to contain undeclared or improperly declared horse meat—100 percent of the meat content, in some cases.[52] A smaller number of products also contained other undeclared meats, such as pork.[53] The issue came to light on January 15, 2013, when it was reported that equine DNA had been discovered in frozen beefburgers sold at several Irish and British supermarkets.

France and Belgium[edit]

According to the 2007 Daily Mail article, 100,000 horses were transported annually into and around the European Union for human consumption in France and Belgium.[50] In 2011, Belgian and Dutch consumers learned about equine-slaughter-related cruelty in North and South America. Undercover video footage broadcast on three news programs showed that horses designated for slaughter are starved, dehydrated and injured. Within hours of the programs, supermarkets responded with promises to investigate. Delhaize, Belgium's second-largest food retailer, asked its supplier to remove the affected meat from its shelves. Two other major grocers told consumers that they do not import horse meat from outside Europe.[54]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Chauvet Cave (ca. 30,000 B.C.)", Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, retrieved May 9, 2012
  2. ^ Early Domestication of Horse, Lilian Lam, Swarthmore College Environmental Studies, retrieved May 9, 2012
  3. ^ Argentina-Horse Meat world production figures, Farming UK, January 17, 2009.
  4. ^ "The horse meat industry." Meat Trade News Daily, 06 Oct 2009. In 2009, a British agriculture industry website reported the listed horse meat production levels in various countries.
  5. ^ United States Humane Slaughter Act, § 1902 Humane Methods, retrieved May 10, 2012
  6. ^ "Horse Slaughter Approved in U.S.: 5 Reasons Not to Eat Horse Meat", International Business Times, retrieved May 10, 2012
  7. ^ Use of the 'Penetrating Captive Bolt' As A Means Of Rendering Equines Insensible For Slaughter Violates The Humane Slaughter Act Of 1958, Manes and Tails Organization, retrieved May 10, 2012
  8. ^ Horse Slaughter Images and Description, Intl' Fund for Horses, retrieved May 10, 2012
  9. ^ Canadians: Act Now to Ban Horse Slaughter!, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, retrieved May 10, 2012,
  10. ^ Mayhew, Henry, London Labour and the London Poor: Volume II, Dover Publications (1968), Paperback ISBN 0-486-21935-6, page 7–9.
  11. ^ "Horse slaughter and the horse-meat trade in Europe". Retrieved September 19, 2016. 
  12. ^ "Horse slaughter–its ethical impact and subsequent response of the veterinary profession". Veterinarians for Equine Welfare. 2011. Retrieved September 20, 2016. 
  13. ^ "The facts about horse slaughter". The Humane Society of the United States. Retrieved September 20, 2016. 
  14. ^ "Horse slaughter". Animal Welfare Institute. Retrieved September 20, 2016. 
  15. ^ Grandin, Temple. "Answering Questions about Animal Welfare during Horse Slaughter". Retrieved 29 January 2016. 
  16. ^ Rhapsody vanishes into ether of slaughter market, The Topeka Capital-Journal, October 15, 2011, retrieved 2011-11-27 
  17. ^ Kill buyer once arrested in Marfa, now on the run from more charges, The Big Bend Sentinel, September 15, 2011, retrieved 2011-11-27 
  18. ^ The Facts on Horse Slaughter, The Humane Society of the United States, January 25, 2010, retrieved 2011-11-29 
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  20. ^ "Facts and figures on the EU horsemeat trade". Humane Society International. 2014. Retrieved September 19, 2016. 
  21. ^ Horsebackmagazine.com "In a report filed by the FVO (Food and Veterinary Office), a number of serious violations and actions taken were cited, including these noted by Animals’ Angels. Two out of five establishments failed to meet EU requirements relating to slaughter hygiene and water quality. Additionally, there were non-traceable carcasses, a number of which were in contact with EU eligible horse meat. No export certificates will be issued until these issues are satisfactorily resolved. Random samples were taken from horse meat processed in 2008, 2009 and 2010 tested positive for EU prohibited drug residues. Sworn statements made by horse owners on veterinary medical treatment histories were not authenticated and proven false, including cases of positive results for EU prohibited drug residues. From January and October 2010, of the 62,560 US horses shipped to slaughter 5,336 were rejected at the border due to advanced pregnancy, health problems or injuries. In a visit to one US export pen, 12 of the 30 horses held there were rejected."
  22. ^ Drugs prohibited for use in horses intended for human consumptionVeterinarians for Equine Welfare
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  24. ^ Former Mayor: Horse Slaughterhouses a Drain on Taxpayers — Never Mind the Ditches of Blood | Pith in the Wind
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  26. ^ "Don't ban horse slaughter in Illinois". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on 2007-10-08. 
  27. ^ Amy Hamilton, Horse abandonment rises, January 24, 2010, trib.com
  28. ^ Cases of horse neglect, abandonment growing in Colorado, January 24, 2010, Colorado Springs Gazette
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  30. ^ "Horse slaughter promoter alleges death threats to YMCA director". Horseback Magazine. March 10, 2012. 
  31. ^ Pelzer, J. (May 22, 2012). "Horse slaughterhouse planned for Wyoming". Star-Tribune. Retrieved September 20, 2016. 
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  33. ^ Animal Welfare Institute: American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act
  34. ^ Science.qj.net: New US Bill Makes Killing Horses for Meat Illegal in US
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  36. ^ Bill Summary & Status : 109th Congress (2005–2006) : S.1915 : All Congressional Actions.
  37. ^ H.R.503 was referred to committee and not reported out for a vote.Bill Summary & Status : 110th Congress (2007–2008) : H.R.503 : All Congressional Actions.
  38. ^ Bill Summary & Status : 110th Congress (2007–2008) : S.311 : All Congressional Actions.
  39. ^ S.1176, June 9, 2011, Government Printing Office.
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  41. ^ "IES Cases 2002–2012" (PDF). Retrieved July 7, 2017. 
  42. ^ "Savage Passage: Down the horse slaughter gauntlet" (PDF). Retrieved July 7, 2017. 
  43. ^ 9 CFR 88.3 - Standards for conveyances, vlex.com.
  44. ^ a b H.R. 305 Passes House Committee, animallawcoalition.com.
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  52. ^ http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-21375594
  53. ^ https://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/jan/16/tesco-burgers-off-shelves-horsemeat
  54. ^ Blow to European Horse Meat market expected to hit the US