Horses tagged by the USDA for slaughter for human consumption.

Doping at US tracks affects Europe’s taste for horse meat

Horses tagged for slaughter for human consumption.
Banned drugs toxic to humans are being found in horse meat from U.S. racehorses sent to Canada and Mexico for slaughter.

Cross-posted from The New York Times


PARIS — For decades, American horses, many of them retired or damaged racehorses, have been shipped to Canada and Mexico, where it is legal to slaughter horses, and then processed and sold for consumption in Europe and beyond.

Lately, however, European food safety officials have notified Mexican and Canadian slaughterhouses of a growing concern: The meat of American racehorses may be too toxic to eat safely because the horses have been injected repeatedly with drugs.

Despite the fact that racehorses make up only a fraction of the trade in horse meat, the European officials have indicated that they may nonetheless require lifetime medication records for slaughter-bound horses from Canada and Mexico, and perhaps require them to be held on feedlots or some other holding area for six months before they are slaughtered.

In October, Stephan Giguere, the general manager of a major slaughterhouse in Quebec, said he turned away truckloads of horses coming from the United States because his clients were worried about potential drug issues. Mr. Giguere said he told his buyers to stay away from horses coming from American racetracks.

“Racehorses are walking pharmacies,” said Dr. Nicholas Dodman, a veterinarian on the faculty of Tufts University and a co-author of a 2010 article that sought to raise concerns about the health risks posed by American racehorses. He said it was reckless to want any of the drugs routinely administered to horses “in your food chain.”

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This is not news to anti horse slaughter advocates of course. But we are extremely grateful for Mr. Drape’s continued exposure of the drug problems facing U.S. racehorses, which now includes the problem of being slaughtered for human consumption full of banned pharmaceuticals across American borders.

However, what about Canadian racehorses?

Canadian racehorses, as we have seen, are routinely slaughtered for human consumption and also administered the anti-inflammatory drug phenylbutazone (bute) and widely abused medication for breathing problems clenbuterol (clen) just like their U.S. cousins.

Slaughter plants in Canada and Mexico should be rejecting all racehorses, not just the ones from the United States.

The other depressing question: What happened to the truckloads of U.S. racehorses turned away from slaughterhouses in Canada, if indeed they were.

6 thoughts on “Doping at US tracks affects Europe’s taste for horse meat”

  1. The only good thing about any of this is it’s finally being brought out in the open for the public to see. The Times does have a lot of readers ti may work to open some eyes as to what is going on.


    1. Totally agree. I hope this article garners support and make people realize what exactly they are supporting every time they go to a track.


  2. In answer to the question “what happen to the truckloads of U.S. racehorses turned away…? I suspect either of the following… 1) NOT all slaughterplants reject them, my understanding is Bouvry owned ones did/do – they own one in Quebec, the other Ft.Mcleod, Alberta, that leaves the other plant in Quebec & the other in Lacombe, Alberta. 2) Horses may have been taken to a feedlot…to wait out 30-90 days then shipped. 3) Abandoned? 4) Hauled to Mexico….to plants that are NOT in the EU contracts.? JMO


    1. One would have to wonde and I have problems sleeping at night when I think about it. Once the TB is in the slaughter funnel it is difficult to rescue them.


  3. I oppose racehorse slaughter and favour humane euthanasia for unwanted horses. In order to reduce or eliminate racehorse slaughter the industry MUST provide funding. The most viable way to fund TB rescue is by taking 1% of wagering intake and distributing it to registered TB rescue groups. Let’s not forget that wagering income is made off the bones, backs, tendons, and ligaments of TB’s. This viable solution is doable and should be made mandatory. Since the racing industry deliberately ignores this solution then government oversight should step in and make it a legal requirement. The only racetrack in North America that has this in place is Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, whereby 1% of wagering is given to Longrun and is a very successful program – TB’s are being retrained and rehomed with the funding. Another area to consider is the owners themselves. What can be implemented to make an owner responsible? Should 1% of a TB’s earnings get set aside? The slaughter issue needs a multi-faceted approach, but 1% of wagering funds is a primary solution. It is an utter disgrace that a business making money off of animals does nothing for that animal in return. It is not a good equation and needs to be immediately rectified.


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