Equine Progressive

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Posts Tagged ‘Horse Slaughter

Further Proof Horses Are Not Food

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You can eat it if you want. I wouldn’t.

Here’s a lovely new study by the Equine Welfare Alliance, which followed eighteen slaughter-bound racehorses from the day they were administered bute (remember, it’s reported to the racing officials on race day, and filed) to the day they went to the kill. Oh the delicious, toxic meat. Bute, we should know by now, is a carcinogen, which manifests itself in bone marrow. It is toxic to the point that there are no safe levels permitted in food at all.

We might all be ill-advised to eat cattle, pigs, and chickens. But we’re flipping insane to eat racehorses.

In Alex Brown’s article, “Keeping Bute Out of the Food Chain,” he cites the Daily Racing Form’s statistic that in 2009, “99% of horses that ran in California pre-raced on Bute (7391 out of 7443).”

And these are the legally slaughtered horses.

Meanwhile, in South Florida, the legislators are writing bills creating felony charges for illegal slaughter – you know, when people find a horse they like, tie it to a tree, and butcher it while it is still alive. Evidently, they believe that this practice is limited to polo ponies, so Representative Luis Garcia (D. – Miami-Dade) assured a Miami blogger that they’ve amended the bill criminalizing illegal slaughter to include the transport of polo ponies. Which is interesting, considering the poster child for illegal horse butchering is a paint named Geronimo.

In reading the bill (which cites, in part, that a reason for criminalizing illegal horse slaughter is to “protect Florida’s natural beauty,” since unsightly horse carcasses have been found on previously pastoral roadsides), it appears that previously, it was only illegal to slaughter registered horses. The language reads that it will now “expand the classification of protection for registered breeds of horses to include any animal of the genus Equus (horse.)” Now grade horses are safe, too!

All joking aside, I find it striking that the horse slaughter debate continues to skirt the issue of food safety. You can spare me the arguments that the horse is not livestock, that civilization itself was built on the backs of horses and it is inappropriate to eat such a noble beast. As it happens, I believe all those arguments, too. But there are just as many people who will never be convinced of the social and philosophical reasons why horses are not food.

The real point to be made is that horses are simply not fit to be eaten. In a country which is repeatedly gripped by various medical panics – contaminated vegetables, bacteria-ridden meat, irradiated milk – no one is saying much about the most compelling reason of all not to slaughter horses: they simply aren’t safe to eat.


Written by Natalie Keller Reinert

April 6, 2010 at 10:52 pm

The Tack Room Medicine Cabinet

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Canada recently released new safety standards for the meat of horses slaughtered for human consumption. Each horse will have to be accompanied by identification and six months’ worth of health records. 

The identification form, chillingly, has room for the horse’s name. Really? Talk about your food having a face. This seems different to me from naming your 4-H pig “Pork Chop,” but perhaps I’m just indulging in a rare fit of sentimentality. 

As Alex Brown continues his study on the reported percentage of racehorses receiving bute on race day (it stands somewhere between 90 and 100%), his essay published at Paulick Report points out what should be obvious to everyone who has ever walked into a tack room: horses are not intended for human consumption. Oh it happens – but not on purpose! 

At least, not in the United States. 

This isn’t an argument about the cruelty of slaughter, or civilization’s debt to the horse, or the question of unwanted horses. I’m not going to get into ethics. I’m interested in food safety. 

Now, I’m not a scientist, and my knowledge of toxicities is limited to Google searches. But I do have a tack box of horse meds, and while I’ve gone pretty natural and it’s not as colorful or interesting as some I have had in the past, some of them make the banned list. 

So, here is what I could find in my little tack room which contains some version of the old stand-by “Not for Horses Intended for Slaughter.” As if any horse ever bred was ever intended for slaughter. 

The first two items are on the banned or six-month list: 

    A banned substance in every tack room.
  • Phenylbutazone. Banned. Everyone gets bute at some point. Oh, you have a swollen eyelid, must have a bee-sting. Have

    some bute. Oh, you’ve got a big bang on your leg. Have some bute. It’s like giving children chewable aspirin. It’s even fruit-flavored most of the time.



  • Nitrofurazone. Banned. Including the very brand that I have, Furall aerosol spray.     

  •  Acepromazine. Six-month withdrawal period. Useful around here for: loading onto trailers, veterinary work in uncomfortable places (like, say, the inside of a yearling’s stifle.) My vet also uses something more hard-core for breeding work. And one of my broodmares, Ontherightwicket, had surgery and was absolutely pumped full of tranq and meds for months. While pregnant. She is officially inedible. And, I wonder, does that make the filly inedible also?

The list of other items that will be permitted, including feed additives, after a certain manufacturer-stated withdrawal period, will be released in April. All these items, which are in my grooming box, have warning labels but aren’t yet listed on the Food Inspection regulations. 

  • Betadine
  • Banixx – An antifungal/antibacterial spray
  • Swat – the insecticide ointment
  • Ivermectin
  • Regu-Mate
  • Smart Tendon – a joint and tendon supplement. It contains MSM – could that be the withdrawal substance?

And what of the off-label items? We all do it. I have DMSO, Lysol, and bleach in my tack room. Are these fit for use on horses intended for human consumption? And if not, who would ever know? They’re not drugs, so they’ll won’t show up on a list of restricted substances. 

How can you regulate an industry that pulls its product almost entirely from people’s backyards? My argument for years stands yet: There are no horses intended for consumption. There are show horses, race horses, pleasure horses, pasture horses, even Premarin horses, who are pushed into slaughter because they fell through the cracks, or no other options presented themselves in a timely manner. Six months off of the withdrawal-limited drugs will never make up for the fact that most horses have had bute, furazone, ace, or a host of other banned substances in their systems at some point. 

It will be interesting to see how Canada deals with these facts of the slaughter industry. Yay or nay on slaughter, you have to admit, keeping the food chain clean and safe seems impossible. And it sure makes you want to grow your own veggies and avoid meat, just thinking about it…

What’s in your horse’s medicine cabinet? Go on, I bet there’s some interesting stuff in there… spill it, we want to know!

Written by Natalie Keller Reinert

March 4, 2010 at 11:15 am