Ground horse meat. Source: TheTakeout.com.

The trouble with horse meat

How toxic is horse meat? The answer is — very.

There are approximately one hundred and ten (110!) drugs administered to horses over their lifetimes that are illegal to administer to animals raised for human consumption. Equines are medicated with wormers, antibiotics, fly sprays, diuretics and Phenylbutazone (a pain killer once administered to people and now banned as a known human carcinogen by the USDA and FDA).

Therefore, a vast majority of horses destined for slaughter will have been treated to some degree with multiple chemical substances that are known to be dangerous to humans, untested on humans, or specifically prohibited for use in animals raised for human consumption.

Nicholas Dodman, Program Director and Professor of Animal Behavior at Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, as well as co-founder of Veterinarians for Equine Welfare, describes horses as “walking pharmacies.” Eating them is about as healthful as eating food contaminated with DDT”.

The number one offending drug? Bute. Bute is used for horses like aspirin is used for humans.

Forbes tell us:

Open quote

“Phenylbutazone (or “bute”), is a painkiller used legally by more than 85% of U.S. horse owners to treat everyday soreness and inflammation, but banned completely in food-producing animals, including horses, by the Food and Drug Administration and related agencies in Canada, the UK, and the EU. Interestingly, in 1949 it was used to treat gout and rheumatoid arthritis in humans, but was later banned when its carcinogenic effects were discovered.

In their reportAssociation of phenylbutazone usage with horses bought for slaughter: A public health risk, Dr. Nicholas Dodman, Dr. Nicolas Blondeau and Dr. Ann Marini describe Phenylbutazone’s adverse effects on humans such as aplastic anemia and leukemia.

Their lengthy 2010 study, which appeared in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology, analyzes the presence of bute in slaughter horses; the government’s inadequate drug testing methodology; and the USDA’s failure to ensure the removal of the vast majority of horses treated with banned substances from the food chain, among other topics.”


Racehorses have the highest exposure to “bute” due to training. However, according to numerous horse owners — pleasure, sport and working horses are also regularly administered the drug.

Of course bute is just the tip of the iceberg. Horses are given a laundry list of drugs that bars their meat from entering the human food chain. Occasionally alarms are sounded regarding this. It will hit the headlines for awhile, groups and experts will put in their two cents’ worth, then it is back to business as usual.

Look at this from a 2012 New York Times article entitled “Drugs injected at the racetrack put Europe off U.S. horse meat.”

Open quote

“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.”


Require them to be held on feedlots or some other holding area for six months before they are slaughtered? Require lifetime medication records? Like that is ever going to happen. What a load of rubbish.

The New York Times article from above focuses on racehorses. We repeat. All types and breeds of horses are slaughtered and end up on a dinner plates who were given multitudinous drugs throughout their lifetimes. We even went so far as to wonder if horses outgunned factory farmed animals in the number and type of drugs given them, making their meat more dangerous for human consumption.

No, is the short answer. Mercy for Animals reports that “over 450 drugs are administered to farm animals.” The group’s source, Center for Food Safety, add that —

Open quote

“To make matters worse, the Center for Food Safety found that drugs posing “significant threats to humans, animals, and the environment are administered to animals. Shockingly, these have been approved by the FDA and are on the market. Of the drugs studied, 12 are banned for use as animal drugs in other countries, but not in the United States.”


In actuality, it would not surprise us at all if racing gave horses “over 450 drugs.” Would it you?

Video

Description: The next time you bite into that burger, maybe you will question what animal that meat is actually coming from. In the video below we’re going to see if that mystery meat you’ve been enjoying is actually from a horse. This funny video may make you re-think your diet.


Take Action

The SAFE Act banning the slaughter of U.S. horses requires your support. Learn more here »

Related reading

Horse meat and who eats it, TH, 2nd June 2021

TH

TUESDAY’S HORSE © FUND FOR HORSES

5 thoughts on “The trouble with horse meat”

  1. Australia slaughters 10,000 horses a year for human consumption and export to the EU. The majority are racehorses. Guess how many of those horses are tested for Phenylbutazone ? Australia’s testing regime tests 10 horses out of 10,000 and yes they had uncovered bute. EU Audits have not been satisfied with this but they still import our horse meat despite being presented with evidence that the system is completely dodgy. Apart from the flimsy testing regime, each horse is accompanied by a Horse Vendor Declaration, often false. As if the people involved in this grisly trade are going to be worried about food safety issues. See more at MeetourHorseMeat.com

    Like

  2. Australia slaughters 10,000 horses a year for human consumption and export to the EU. The majority are racehorses. Guess how many of those horses are tested for Phenylbutazone ? Australia’s testing regime tests 10 horses out of 10,000 and yes they had uncovered bute. EU Audits have not been satisfied with this but they still import our horse meat despite being presented with evidence that the system is completely dodgy. Apart from the flimsy testing regime, each horse is accompanied by a Horse Vendor Declaration, often false. As if the people involved in this grisly trade are going to be worried about food safety issues. See more at MeetourHorseMeat.com

    Like

  3. Seriously? Racing gives horses over 450 drugs? You do know that race horses are one of the highest tested horses for drugs..WOW, stop making up lies to satisfy your narrative and just tell the facts and truth…

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  4. My 27 yo morgan gelding lives on our farm-he is healthy now but when th time comes- he will be euthanized by our equine vet and cremated- not to leave our property to end up in slaughter- how wretched!! pity the canadian and western horses who are only raised to end up in asia and europe!!

    Liked by 1 person

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