Thursday, June 23, 2011

GAO says ban on horse slaughterhouses has contributed to increases in neglect and abuse

The effective ban on horse slaughter for human consumption in the United States has contributed to an increase in abuse and neglect of horses, the Government Accountability Office said in a report yesterday. It recommended that Congress either restore funding for inspection of horse abattoirs or ban horse slaughter outright.

The GAO, an independent arm of Congress, found that since Congress enacted the ban in 2007, exports of horses to Mexico and Canada for processing have increased 660 percent and 148 percent, respectively. "Nearly the same number," almost 138,000, went to slaughter in those countries in 2010 as were slaughtered before U.S. slaughter ended, the report said.

However, because of transportation costs and lower prices in Mexico, "the plant closings were also responsible for an 8 to 21 percent decline in market prices for low- and medium- priced horses, or those that are most likely to be brought to slaughter," writes Pat Raia of

The GAO noted increased reports of neglect and abuse, and said "State, local, tribal, and horse industry officials generally attributed these increases in neglect and abandonments to cessation of domestic slaughter and the economic downturn," Raia reports. For a summary of the report, click here. For a PDF of the full report, go here.

The House Appropriations Committee voted narrowly to continue the ban, and an amendment to repeal it was debated but withdrawn in the full House last week. For the Congressional Record transcript of the debate on the issue, from United Horsemen, click here

1 comment:

Tom said...

horse slaughter should be banned outright because the meat is poisonous.
Horse meat is unfit for humans to eat. Food and Chemical Toxicology, Volume 48, Issue 5, May 2010, Pages 1270-1274
Association of phenylbutazone usage with horses bought for slaughter: A public health risk
Nicholas Dodman, Nicolas Blondeau, Ann M. Marini
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs - prohibited as well Phenylbutazone, known as "bute," is a veterinary drug only label-approved by the Food & Drug Administration for use by veterinarians in dogs and horses. It has been associated with debilitating conditions in humans and it is absolutely not permitted for use in food-producing animals. USDA/FSIS has conducted a special project to for this drug in selected bovine slaughter plants under federal inspection. An earlier pilot project by FSIS found traces less than 3% of the livestock selected for testing, sufficient cause for this special project. There is no tolerance for this drug in food-producing livestock, and they and their by-products are condemned when it is detected. Dairy producers must not use this drug in food-producing livestock and if it is found, those producers will be subject to FDA investigation and possible prosecution.
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).
99 percent of horses that started in California last year raced on bute, according to Daily Racing Form. Bute is banned in the United States and Canada for horses intended for the food chain. That’s a permanent ban.
Nonsteroidal Medication (NSAID’s)
Phenylbutazone (Bute), flunixin meglamine (Banamine), and ketoprofen (Ketofen) are the most common NSAID’s used in horses while aspirin and ibuprofen are the most commonly used NSAID’s in humans. These are very effective in eliminating discomfort and are usually the first line of therapy in minor musculoskeletal pain.
NSAIDs The systemic NSAID group includes phenylbutazone (Butazolidin) and flunixin meglumine (Banamine), which are 2 of the most widely prescribed drugs in equine medicine.
Volume 25, Issue 3, Pages 98-102 (March 2005)
Dr Anthony Blikslager, DVM, PhD, DACVS (Associate Professor)a, Dr Sam Jones, DVM, PhD, DACVIM (Associate Professor)b