H.R. 961 – Drugs, racing and toxic horse meat

Backstreet Bully. Toronto Star image.
Backstreet Bully. Toronto Star image.

By VIVIAN FARRELL

H.R. 961, the “Safeguard American Food Exports Act of 2019, stipulates:

“(3) equines raised in the United States are frequently treated with drugs, including phenybutazone, acepromazine, boldenone undecylenate, omeprazole, ketoprofen, xyalzine, hyaluronic acid, nitrofurazone, polysulfated glycosaminoglycan, clenbuterol, tolazoline, and ponazuril, which are not approved for use in horses intended for human consumption and equine parts are therefore unsafe within the meaning of section 512 of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act;”

After looking at the drugs cited, I began to wonder how many of them are commonly used in horse racing since racehorses are given a laundry list of drugs while training and racing. Here are the drugs mentioned in H.R. 961 in order of reference. The ones with checkmarks are used in racehorses. You will be seeing a lot of checkmarks.

• phenybutazone (analygesic, painkiller) ✓

• acepromazine (tranquilizer, phenothiazine derivative, decreases dopamine levels and depresses some portions of the reticular activating system) ✓

• boldenone undecylenate (anabolic steroid) ✓

• omeprazole (treatment for ulcers) ✓

• ketoprofen (potent pain reliever, fever reducer, and anti-inflammatory medication) ✓

• xyalzine (sedative, analgesic and anesthetic) ✓

“In horses, the drug depresses the central nervous system and slows the respiratory rate; it is also a partial heart block,” Paulick Report, February 12, 2019

• hyaluronic acid (used to treat equine inflammation; helps delay onset of osteoarthritis in racehorses) ✓

• nitrofurazone (antibiotic treatment for surface bacterial infections of wounds, burns, and cutaneous ulcers for use on large animals such as horses; has been linked to cancer in humans) ✓

“Backstreet Bully was unloaded from a trailer after dawn and led by his halter into an abattoir in rural Quebec. Once owned and raced by Magna’s Frank Stronach, the chestnut thoroughbred was to be slaughtered then packaged for human food.”

SeeStar investigation: Ottawa refuses to say whether drug-tainted horse meat entered food chain”, Mar. 31, 2013, Tuesday’s Horse.

• polysulfated glycosaminoglycan, marketed as Adequan (used for the intramuscular treatment of non-infectious degenerative and/or traumatic joint dysfunction and associated lameness of the carpal and hock joints in horses) ✓

Clenbuterol. Photo: Benjamin Norman / New York Times.
PHOTO CREDIT: BENJAMIN NORMAN / NYT
A bottle of the drug Clenbuterol, also know by the brand name Ventipulmin.

• clenbuterol (a bronchodilator that is helpful for horses with heaves, an inflammatory condition that causes the airways to constrict) ✓

Banned in Quarter Horse racing in 2017; last year, the CHRB determined that “It can still be used for health reasons. However, it cannot be administered so close to a race that it can be detected in samples. [Arthur]* said the normal clearance time is three weeks to a month. See “CHRB Moves To Ban Presence Of Clenbuterol On Race Day”, Paulick Report, Oct. 26, 2018

• tolazoline (A vasodilator that apparently has direct actions on blood vessels and also increases cardiac output) ✓

• ponazuril (used for the treatment of equine protozoal myeloencephalitis (EPM), a debilitating neurological disease) — all horses

*  *  *  *  *

Meat derived from horses treated with any of the drugs mentioned bars them from entering the human food chain. It is immoral and unethical to continue slaughtering American horses for human consumption, including the racehorse.

Please contact your U.S. Representative today to cosponsor H.R. 961. It will take you about 10 minutes. Go to step by step guideline »

IN MEMORY OF BACKSTREET BULLY
And Thousands Like Him

*   *   *

* California Horse Racing Board Equine Medical Director Dr. Rick Arthur, DVM

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