Cross-posted from New York Times
WRITTEN BY STEPHANIE STROM
The United States Department of Agriculture is likely to approve a horse slaughtering plant in New Mexico in the next two months, which would allow equine meat suitable for human consumption to be produced in the United States for the first time since 2007.
The plant, in Roswell, N.M., is owned by Valley Meat Company, which sued the U.S.D.A. and its Food Safety and Inspection Service last fall over the lack of inspection services for horses going to slaughter. Horse meat cannot be processed for human consumption in the United States without inspection by the U.S.D.A., so horses destined for that purpose have been shipped to places like Mexico and Canada for slaughter.
Justin DeJong, a spokesman for the agriculture department, said that “several” companies had asked the agency to re-establish inspection of horses for slaughter. “These companies must still complete necessary technical requirements and the F.S.I.S. must complete its inspector training,” he wrote in an e-mail referring to the food inspection service.
He said the Obama administration was urging Congress to reinstate an effective ban on the production of horse meat for human consumption that lapsed in 2011.
Valley Meat sued Tom Vilsack, the agriculture secretary, and Al Almanza, the head of the food safety inspection service, charging that the department’s failure to offer inspection of horse meat violated the Federal Meat Inspection Act.
That law directs the agriculture department to appoint inspectors to examine “all amenable species” before they enter a slaughtering facility.
“Amenable species” were animals subject to the act the day before it was enacted, including cattle, sheep, pigs, goats, horses and mules. Continue reading >>