The Safeguard American Food Exports Act (SAFE) was introduced in Washington, D.C. by leading politicians and animal advocacy groups on Tuesday. More controversy recently arose over horse slaughter after IKEA meatballs and British Taco Bell alleged 100% beef products turned out to have horse meat in them and were being sold to unknowing consumers.
Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-La) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) introduced Senate version S.541 which was referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. The House version H.R. 1094, introduced by Reps. Patrick Meehan (R-Pa) and Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill) was referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce and the Committee on Agriculture.
According to John Holland, President of the Equine Welfare Alliance:
"We are beyond delighted that the sponsors of this new legislation have
presented it as a food safety issue. The horses are not the only victims
of this predatory industry; it impacts individuals and even whole
communities in horrific ways. For over five years we have been
recommending that the legislation address the human victims who consume
the meat, trusting that their food safety authorities would not allow
its sale if it were not safe. In the EU, horse meat laced with
phenylbutazone has been found in meatballs that were labeled as beef!
The horse meat scandal has shown that the responsible agencies have been
unable to guarantee even what animal a consumer might be eating, much
less that is uncontaminated."
Supported by the Humane Society of the United States, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and the Animal Welfare Institute, the successful passage of the bill will finally end the inhumane slaughter of American horses in Canada and Mexico by prohibiting the transport of American horses for the purpose of slaughter for human consumption. The bill will also relieve the concern of American consumers that horse meat will not wind up in their ground beef or other meat products.
Horse meat is not sold in the United States; 80 percent of Americans are against horse slaughter. American horses are routinely given carcinogenic drugs specifically banned by the United States Department of Agriculture to be used in meat produced for human consumption.
In 2007, the last horse slaughterhouse shuttered their doors in Illinois as the Cavel Horse Slaughter plant closed when Congress defunded USDA inspectors. In 2011 however, a few politicians quietly inserted the language into the omnibus spending act thus enabling horse slaughter plants in the United States to operate again. Cavel's existence was referred to as a blight against the community with constant complaints and violations of overflowing sewage. Even though the plant was completely rebuilt after the original facility burned down, it was never in compliance on sewage discharge.
After Cavel closed in the United States, they moved their operations to Natural Valley Farms in Canada. That plant was eventually closed.
An alarming concern however has arisen over the growing scandal of horse meat in alleged beef products all over Europe and in the United States fear continues with that of a horse slaughter plant now trying to open up in Roswell, N.M. early this spring. American consumers wonder if horse meat with all of the toxicity from commonly used equine drugs and treatments will somehow end up in their meat sources.
In 2012, there were 160,000 horses sent to Canada and Mexico for slaughter for human consumption. The slaughter process has been deemed inhumane by animal advocacy groups.
Meanwhile Valley Meats have applications in with the Department of Agriculture to open up a horse slaughtering plant in Roswell, N.M. with the company claiming they have researched the most humane methods to slaughter horses. According to the N.Y. Times:
"A. Blair Dunn, the lawyer for Valley Meat, said that the Justice Department recently asked the company for an additional 60 days to file a response to its lawsuit. Mr. Dunn said the Justice Department indicated it was asking for the extra time because “the U.S.D.A. plans to issue a grant of inspection within that time, which would allow my clients to begin operations.” Mr. Dunn said that Valley Meat had hired experts in the humane treatment of horses for slaughter and was training employees. The company is not planning to sell meat in the United States, at least at the outset of its operations. 'Last spring, they were in discussions with several companies in European countries about exporting their products,' he said of his clients. 'I’m sure if markets do develop in this country for horse meat for human consumption, they will look at them.'"
In 2012, Valley Meats was shut down by the USDA for the inhumane treatment of slaughter animals. Inspectors observed a beef bull repeatedly shot in the head numerous times without rendering the animal unconscious. A Corrected Notice of Suspension was issued on Feb. 29, 2012 to Valley Meat Company in Roswell, N.M. stating the following:
"The suspension is based on your failure to meet regulatory requirements in regards to the humane handling of animals at your establishment during slaughter."
In August 2012, the company was fined $86,000 by the New Mexico State Environmental Department for the improper disposal of animal carcases behind the plant.
According to Money msn, Senator Mary Landrieu who rescued a horse from a Pennsylvania horse rescue stated:
"The practice of horse slaughter for human consumption is revolting to me as a horse owner, but also as a consumer. Horses are not raised for human consumption, and they are frequently treated with drugs and chemicals that are toxic when ingested by humans. Especially in light of the European horse meat contamination scandals, we must ensure that our food supply at home is not tainted with horse meat, nor should we supply an unsafe food product to foreign industries. I am proud to join my colleagues to introduce the SAFE Act to end the slaughter of one of the world's most beloved animals and help protect public health."
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