Further proof that horses are not food >> Equine Progressive

Originally published at my blog Equine Progressive, on April 6, 2010, this post has been getting some play from Google searches. I think some of the links have since been broken, unfortunately, but the facts remain the same.


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.



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7 responses to “Further proof that horses are not food >> Equine Progressive

  1. So happy you reposted this article, couldn’t agree more, keep the horses out of the food chain.

  2. What do you make of the AVMA stating that there is not enough residue of phenylbutazone left in the muscle of the horse at the time of slaughter?


    I’m not one to take the chance, but people know about the dangers of hormone and antibiotic enhanced beef, and that has not stopped the hoards of people flocking to McDonald’s.

    • It hasn’t stopped them, but they shouldn’t be eating there, either. I won’t touch that McDonald’s food. Disgusting.

      The AVMA can say what they like, but the Canadian health code already excludes all horses from the human food chain who have been exposed to bute. The EU code also states this. Is the American appetite for horsemeat so voracious that they are demanding all the horsemeat that the Canadians and the Europeans have said are too harmful to be eaten? Will there be a McMustang at McDonald’s?

      When you consider the American distaste for horsemeat (it even says, contradicting itself, in the AVMA faq, that zoos are a large consumer for horsemeat but then that many zoos, because of consumer pressure, are eliminating that practice) and the international health codes that render most horsemeat unusable in human diet, it really becomes obvious that the eagerness of the politicians, particularly Ms Wallis, to bring back horse slaughter has everything to do with cash in their pockets and nothing to do with feeding the hungry, eliminating groundwater contamination from chemical euthanasia, or providing a humane end to unwanted horses.

  3. Jim Culpepper

    All this, concurrent with the bemused debate on why racehorses have literally started falling apart in recent years. I don’t know anything about chemical euthanasia contaminating groung water except that burial prevents natural disposal by scavengers, and then, sans burial, we have to worry about poisoned buzzards and coyotes. Bute is only the tip of a synergistic chemical iceberg. Apparently. the poor beasts should not even be used for fertilizer. Expletives deleted.

  4. mary papini

    More information about toxins in horsemeat is getting out to the public, that is good! Horse meat causes CANCER IN HUMANS, that is the point here! what doesnt congress understand here? People like sue wallus dont care about the safety issues, its obviously all about the money that horse slaughter could make them! DISGUSTING!!!!!!! If slaughter comes back in U.S. drastic measures will be taken, groups of people will be formed to put these animals down before the kill buyers get them. BULLETS are cheap!!!!!

  5. What you say makes a lot of sense! Thank you for speaking up. Frankly, I’ve given up eating any kind of animal meat. I simply can’t stand it any longer. And, I’ve left instructions to my family that should something happen to me, none of my 5 rescued horses are to go to auction. PERIOD. There is no negotiation on this point. One of my horses is an off-the-track thoroughbred who ran in 7 races and never won. The other thoroughbred was on a slaughter-bound feedlot when I saw her ad and rescued her.

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