Horse meat cuts painted on a live, grazing horse.

How horse meat might get into the US food system

I know most of you have read or heard something on this subject, but it’s worth repeating … and repeating and repeating. This is a well researched and written report. Don’t be misled by the word “might” in the title. It is happening. Read full report at the links provided. —Ed.

Cross-posted from Pacific Standard Magazine
by JAMES McWILLIAMS

Exotic game meat is a specialty food item that’s becoming increasingly less special—currently it’s a $39 billion a year industry. This might be great news for consumers with a taste for bear, yak, lion, or beaver (you can place an online order with a quick click), but it’s not so great in terms of knowing what’s in our food.

Exotic meats shipped globally have long had a reputation for being mislabeled (in some cases, almost 70 percent of the time) and, closer to home, a recent Chapman University study found that the problem was prevalent in the United States as well.

More to the point—and of possible concern to those who aren’t even in the market for exotic meat—the study found that some imported game contained traces of something that’s illegal to produce and sell commercially in the U.S.: horse meat.

EU Horse Meat Scandal Cartoon

Exactly how horse meat gets mixed up with other meat (processed or exotic) is hard to say.

There are multiple points where supply chains might cross and most of them are obscured by the intricately global nature of the trade.

But one pipeline stands out as a perfectly plausible source. Notably, it begins and ends in the U.S.

That pipeline originates with a group of brokers known as “kill buyers.”

Kill buyers purchase horses at auction—or from private sellers—and turn around and sell them to slaughterhouses in Mexico (and Canada).

For the most part, these horses are rodeo, racing, riding, and breeding stock. But they also come from Bureau of Land Management holding facilities, where wild horses rounded up from public lands (to appease ranchers) and at public expense are held in captivity—for life.

So, when horses leave the U.S. to become horse meat in Mexico they can, for all intents and purposes, sneak into the backdoor of any nation’s—and thus any company’s—food supply.

Read full report »

• Read Jane Allin’s report, “Eating Horses.”

• Raise Awareness. Order your stop horse slaughter stop decal. Imagine the people you will reach! Easily adheres to any smooth, hard surface. Designed to hold up in any kind of weather. Two sizes: 3″ and 4″. Thank you.

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