The pending lawsuit by the Humane Society and other animal protection groups to ban the slaughter of horses in the United States has been tossed by a federal judge, clearing the way for horsemeat slaughterhouses to open shop and sell the meat to prospective buyers. That, however, does not mean that Americans will be sitting down anytime soon to a plated medium rare horse steak, though, since the sale of horsemeat in the U. S. is banned. Instead, lifting the ban allows slaughterhouses to be licensed to process horses and send the meat to nations where horsemeat consumption is legal.
The Inquistr reported Nov. 2 that Federal Judge Christina Armijo dismissed the lawsuit brought against New Mexico-based Valley Meat Co., whose facilities the lawsuit claimed had not been properly subjected to Department of Agriculture environmental studies when it was awarded permits to begin operations. The lawsuit also included Iowa-based Reliable Transportation. However, the owners of that particular firm, according to the Associated Press, switched to beef slaughter after being served a restraining order in August, making the ban lift moot in its case.
Still, another horsemeat slaughterhouse (not mentioned in the lawsuit) in Gallatin, Mo., awaited the ruling, hoping to open its doors for business on Monday, Nov. 4. The ruling made that possible.
Valley Meat Co. owner Rick De Los Santos said the judge's ruling was a surprise. The company's lawyer, said that if he'd been a betting man, he would have lost, but he told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch he was "happy to be wrong."
Prior to permits being awarded to companies in the U. S., all horses set for slaughter from the states were shipped off to slaughterhouses in Mexico and Canada.
Still, legally slaughtering horses in no way allows for the sale in the United States of horsemeat for human to eat.
According to Catherine Cochran of the Department of Agriculture's Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS), horsemeat cannot legally be sold for human consumption in the United States. The official told USA Today in March, after the horsemeat-infused beef scandal rocked Europe, that "FSIS does not allow imports of horse meat from other countries for human consumption." Cochran also noted that no domestic companies dealt with the food companies associated with the scandal in Europe.
So, all horsemeat slaughterhouse lawsuits aside, horse slaughtering is legal now in the U. S., but you still can't get horsemeat to eat.
For that, you'll have to hop a flight to Europe or Asia, where horsemeat is often considered a delicacy, selling for as much as $20 per pound. At those prices, it is no wonder that American businessmen want to get in on the trade.