Banned Drugs in Slaughter Horses and H.R. 961

Superiorbute. Google image.
Superiorbute. Google image.

H.R. 961 (the SAFE Act of 2019), pending in the U.S. House of Representatives, is designed “To prevent human health threats posed by the consumption of equines raised in the United States,” which can only be accomplished by outlawing the slaughter of American horses.

American horses are routinely given drugs potentially harmful or lethal to human health which bars their meat from entering the human food chain. That is the crux of the matter and this Bill.

Bute is the most often cited drug — a sort of equine “aspirin” used by virtually every U.S. horse — which automatically bars any horse who has been administered it from slaughter for human consumption.

But the picture is much bigger than just Bute.

In addition to Bute, there is a laundry list of banned drugs routinely given to horses that removes their meat from the safe to eat list. These drugs have two types of safety standards — (1) a zero withdrawal period, and (2) a six month withdrawal period.


Phenylbutazone (“Bute”)
Clenbuterol (Ventipulmin)
Diethylstilbestrol (DES)
Ipronidazole and other nitroimidazoles (including metronidazole)
Furazolidone, Nitrofurazone, other nitrofurans
Dapsone (4-[(4-aminobenzene)sulfonyl]aniline)
Glycopeptides (antibiotics such as vancomycin)
Gentian violet (Tris(4-(dimethylamino)phenyl)methylium chloride)
Aristolochic acid (8-methoxy-6-nitrophenanthro[3,4-d][1,3]dioxole-5-carboxylic acid) and preparations thereof
Hormonal steroids for growth promotion purposes (testosterone, progesterone, trenbolone and derivatives)
Anabolic or gestagenic steroids for therapeutic and/or zootechnical purposes (boldenone and estrogens such as 17ßestradiol, estriol, and other sex hormones).
All ß-agonists (e.g. compounds belonging to the Clenbuterol family)
Stilbenes ((E)-1,2-Diphenylethene and isomers), salts and esters.
Thyrostats (Thyroid hormones, derivatives like Levothyroxine and their agonist such as thiouracils and sulfur-containing imidazoles)


Altrenogest (gestagenic agent, MRLs set to 1 μg/kg in fat and 0.9 μg/kg in liver)
Carprofen (NSAID with uses similar to phenylbutazone but less potent; MRLs set to 500 μg/kg in muscle, 1,000 μg/kg in fat, liver and kidney)
Cefquinome (antibiotic; MRLs set to 100 μg/kg in liver and 200 μg/kg in kidney)
Ceftiofur (antibiotic; MRLs set to 1,000 μg/kg in muscle, 2,000 μg/kg in fat and liver and 6,000 μg/kg in kidney)
Dexamethasone (corticosteroid; MRLs set to 0,75 μg/kg in muscle, 2 μg/kg in liver and 0.75 μg/kg in kidney)
Febantel, Fenbendazole and oxfendazole sulphone (antiparasitic agent; MRLs set to 50 μg/kg in muscle, fat and kidney and 500 μg/kg in liver)
Firocoxib (NSAID; MRLs set to 10 μg/kg in muscle and kidney, 15 μg/kg in fat and 60 μg/kg in liver).
Flunixin (NSAID; MRLs set to 10 μg/kg in muscle, 20 μg/kg in fat, 100 μg/kg in liver and 200 μg/kg in kidney)
Ivermectin (antiparasitic agent; MRLs set to 100 μg/kg in fat and liver and 30 μg/kg in kidney)
Kanamycin (antibiotic; MRLs set to 100 μg/kg in muscle and fat, 600 μg/kg in liver and 2,500 μg/kg in kidney)
Mebendazole (antiparasitic agent; MRLs set to 60 μg/kg in muscle, fat and kidney and 400 μg/kg in liver)
Meloxicam (NSAID; MRLs set to 20 μg/kg in muscle and 65 μg/kg in liver and kidney)
Metamizole (NSAID; MRLs set to 100 μg/kg in all relevant tissues)
Moxidectin (antiparasitic agent; MRLs set to 50 μg/kg in muscle, and kidney , 500 μg/kg in fat and 100 μg/kg in liver)
Neomycin (antibiotic; MRLs set to 500 μg/kg in muscle, fat and liver and 5,000 μg/kg in kidney)
Trimethoprim (anti-infectious and chemotherapy agent; MRLs set to 100 μg/kg in all relevant tissues)
Vedaprofen (NSAID; MRLs set to 50 μg/kg in muscle, 20 μg/kg in fat, 100 μg/kg in liver and 1,000 μg/kg in kidney)

Although Bute is the most commonly drug administered to American horses, all the drugs listed above are given to horses as a matter of routine throughout the United States, especially those involved in racing.

Please bear in mind. This is not an exhaustive list. New medications are being developed and introduced into the equine marketplace on a regular basis. It is near impossible to keep up with it.

Additionally, not only are a wide variety of medications administered to American horses, but also compounds not catalogued as “medicines” per se are frequently given to them, such as dimethyl sulfoxide (an lab grade polar aprotic solvent used as a liniment on horses to treat sore legs), protein supplements and, much like beef cattle, bone meal, which is a known vector for BSE or “mad cow” disease.

See Section 530.41 of Title 21 of US Code of Federal Regulations, provisions of the Federal Food, Drugs and Cosmetics Act (21 U.S.C. §301 et seq.);

See also provisions of European Commission (EU) Regulation No. 37/2010 and European Council Directive 96/22/EC several medicines commonly used in horse husbandry in the U.S. have been totally banned from use in animals (regardless of species) intended to be slaughtered for human food.

See all of the above and more here, Banned_Drugs_Slaughter_Horses_Report (pdf, 3 pp).

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It is vital to share this information with your legislators when lobbying for their support in getting H.R. 961 made into law. Please feel free to share and use!


• H.R. 961 currently has 151 cosponsors right now. It had 140 when we started our campaign. Well done everyone! Let’s keep it going.

Our Goal: 290 Cosponsors. When we arrive at that number we can file a Motion to place the Bill on the House Calendar for a vote, bypassing the Committees its in, invoking the Consensus Calendar Rule.

• Find out how you can help right here, right now on Tuesday’s Horse


1 thought on “Banned Drugs in Slaughter Horses and H.R. 961”

  1. Every month about 2000 + equine are transported & exported to Mex/Can/Jap for human consumption, 2/3 are off racetracks, rodeos, polo & equestrian teams laden with Bute, steroids & performance enhancing drugs, eaten by pregnant/unborn, immunocompromised, children etc. The avg age of these horses is 5 yrs old!
    HR 961 will fix it for them & the Wild ones alike as it will prohibit the transport & exportation of ALL equine for the purpose of human consumption.


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