The horsemeat scandal and American horses

Meat in grinder. By Danielle Scott.

Do you remember the horse meat scandal of 2013? I don’t think saying it sent shockwaves around the world is much of an overstatement. Horsemeat masquerading as beef!

But should it have been, really? Accurate and reliable food labeling has long, long been a problem in many countries.

Findus was front and center of many of the horsemeat scandal reports. But so was Aldi.

“Aldi (among other food vendors) had an issue back in February 2013 with a supplier who provided them with horsemeat-tainted products, but that issue has since been resolved and did not affect consumers in the U.S.”[1]

As the story unfolded, the horsemeat scandal that affected Aldi and other food vendors in Sweden, France and the UK reportedly stemmed from their unknowingly receiving horsemeat-tainted products from the supplier Comigel, who in turn blamed the problem on a subsupplier.

Comigel CEO Erick Lehagre told French news agency Agence France-Presse that his company had been “fooled” by a French supplier. “We were victims,” he said, according to AFP.


The words “contamination” and “tainted” hardly covers the extent of the issue especially concerning the amount of horsesmeat found. Subsequent testing determined that the contaminated Comigel products sold by Aldi and others contained 30% to 100% horsemeat instead of beef.


In a 2015 Money Talks News article entitled, “Horse Meat Found in Other Ground Meat Sold in U.S.”, they reported:

“Research into the mislabeling of meats has uncovered horse meat mixed in with other ground meat sold in the U.S. commercial market.

“For a study of ground meat products sold in the U.S., researchers from the Food Science Program at Chapman University in California analyzed 48 samples and found that 10 were mislabeled.

“One sample was entirely mislabeled with regard to what type of animal meat it contained. Nine samples had meat from an additional type of animal mixed in. In two of those cases, the mix contained horse meat, which is illegal to sell in the U.S.”[2]

Where did the horsemeat come from and how did it get there? European countries aren’t the only ones with serious issues. We the public cannot really safely assume that any of this has been truly rectified and not going on right now, undetected.


The Guardian reporting on the horsemeat scandal trial in January 2019, states:

“The trial of four people accused of an elaborate fraud that tricked consumers into buying ready-made meals containing horsemeat instead of beef has opened in Paris.
An international scandal erupted in 2013 when the mislabelled food was discovered by the Irish authorities in frozen burgers labelled “pure beef”.

“A wider investigation found horsemeat in ready-made meals on sale in several high-street supermarkets in Britain and in pre-prepared dishes across Europe, including those used by hospital caterers and in school lunches.

“About 4.5m dishes – including lasagne, moussaka, chilli con carne and beefburgers made with horsemeat passed off as beef – were believed to have been distributed around 13 countries.[3]

13 countries!

Those in the dock were accused of:

“. . . having sold the meat as “boned beef” that had been cut and prepared in France, while allegedly knowing it was horsemeat that had been treated in Romania, Belgium or Canada.”[4]

The BBC reported:

“The four men are accused of helping organise the sale of more than 500 tonnes of horsemeat in 2012—2013 to a subsidiary of Comigel, a French company whose frozen meals were sold in more than a dozen European countries.”

Another “is also accused of selling more than 200 tonnes of horsemeat mainly in the form of beef merguez sausages.”[5]

The BBC also posted a handy timeline concerning the horsemeat scandal. Pay particular attention to 3.


• In mid-January 2013, Irish food inspectors said they had found horsemeat in some burgers stocked by UK supermarket chains
• Up to 100% horsemeat was then found in several ranges of prepared frozen food in the UK, France and Sweden
• There were concerns that a drug used to treat horses, and which may be harmful to humans, could have entered the food chain
• Meat was traced from France through Cyprus and the Netherlands to Romanian abattoirs
Investigations suggested the adulteration was not accidental, but the work of a criminal conspiracy

The third point is a highly important one. Up to this point little to nothing was said about the horsemeat potentially being contaminated because of the drug Bute, the drug they no doubt were referring to.


On April, 16, 2016, reported:

“A Paris criminal court on Tuesday found four men guilty of falsely labeling horsemeat as beef, handing down fines and jail time for the role they played in a Europe-wide food-fraud scandal.

“The scandal resulted in millions of industrialized beef dishes being pulled from supermarket shelves after it was discovered that they contained horsemeat despite being labeled as beef. The scam involved importing cheap horsemeat from Belgium, Romania and Canada.”[6]


Meat from U.S. horses is tainted and will always be so. They are administered a laundry list of drugs which bar their meat from entering the human food chain.

Speaking of horsemeat entering the human food chain knowlingly and surreptitiously states:

“But six years after the horse meat scandal, the situation is still unsatisfactory and it is urgent that steps are taken to go much further.

“In theory, the traceability of food throughout the supply chain must be guaranteed. In reality, this is far from being the case.”


It is high time the U.S. takes the lead on this issue. It is time we take responsibility and stop being a chief supplier of toxic horsemeat dangerous for human consumption by banning the slaughter of our horses.


H.R. 961, the Safeguard American Food Exports Act of 2019 (The SAFE Act)[8], when it becomes law, will ban the slaughter of American horses for human consumption at home and across our borders.

Regardless of anyone’s personal feelings about horse slaughter (is it right or is it wrong?) it is certainly the right thing morally and ethically to ban toxic U.S. horsemeat from entering the human food chain.

The passage of the SAFE Act is designed for and will accomplish this.


Contact your U.S. Representative today and ask him or her to cosponsor and vote H.R. 961 into law. Go here for more information.


Please make a donation to The Horse Fund, the publishers of Tuesday’s Horse, who are monitoring horse related bills like H.R.961 in Washington D.C., and lobbying hard for their passage. We have a tremendous opportunity this Congress to finally outlaw the slaughter of American horses. Let’s do it!
[4] See 3.


Meat in grinder. Danielle Scott.

Will you help stop horse slaughter?

Horses held in a pen awaiting export for slaughter. Photo by Kathy Milani for HSUS.

H.R. 961, a bill pending in the nation’s capitol, that will ban horse slaughter and export for slaughter, has 190 cosponsors.

In order to take advantage of the Consensus Calendar rule[1], we need 290 cosponsors. That’s 100 more. Will you help our horses get those critical cosponsors? 

Using the Consensus Calendar rule is how the horse soring bill got its debate and vote on the House Floor, winning by a spectacular margin of 333-96.

Remember, every single horse slaughter prevention bill but one has died in committee[2]. This is a heaven sent opportunity to save our horses from slaughter. No matter how disheartened we have become over the years, let’s not fail to use it.

Time is of the essence. We can’t wait until next year’s session to get this done. There will still be so much left to do — like tackling the Senate! Let’s get the House bill wrapped up now, in the next couple of months.

Are you willing to take 10, 15, perhaps 20 minutes of your time to help get H.R.961 to 290 cosponsors?

Please telephone your U.S. Representative, or create a free account PopVox account using an email and password to contact your U.S. Representative today[3]. If you know of a quicker or better way, then please use it. We don’t care.

Oh, and please share this far and wide!


[1]  Pelosi and McGovern Unveil Details of Rules Package for the 116th Congress ( website/Rules) »

[2]  Died in Committee (Tuesday’s Horse) » Horse Slaughter Legislative Timeline  (The Horse Fund; linked below by year) »

1998-2002 2003 | 2004 | 2005 | 2006 | 2007 | 2008 | 2009 | 2010 | 2011 | 2012 | 2013 | 2014 | 2015 | 2016| 2017 | 2018 | 2019 | 2020

[3] Contacting Congress (Tuesday’s Horse) »





Quote of the Day

Horse meat tartare in Jeju Island, Korea, restaurant.

[Horse flesh] is about as healthful as food contaminated with DDT.

—Nicholas Dodman, professor at Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine

If you are looking for more talking points why U.S. legislators should enact H.R.961 and S.2006 (the “SAFE Act”), outlawing horse slaughter on U.S. soil and outside the U.S., this is an excellent one.

This directly supports the arguments made about toxic horse meat and why we should ban it.

Take action against horse slaughter today »

Slaughter of U.S. horses in Canada

Three horses looking straight ahead. Photographer unknown.

In a phone call to the CFIA, we were told that just under 24,000 U.S. horses were slaughtered in Canada in 2018. See the overall numbers of horses slaughtered in Canadian plants for 2008 through 2016 here.

Also in 2018, we found that nearly 66,000 U.S. horses were transported to Mexico for slaughter.


There is a bill pending before Congress that will outlaw the transport of horses across U.S. borders for the purpose of slaughter as well as outlaw horse slaughter on U.S. soil — H.R.961 — The SAFE Act (

Will you pick up the phone right now and call your U.S. Representative requesting they cosponsor H.R. 961?

Find them at Prepare what you want to say before you dial. Type it up if you have to. Always speak from the heart. Why do you want horse slaughter to end? That is what they want to hear.

The Capitol Hill switchboard number is 202 224 2131.

Nervous about phoning? Lots of us are. Don’t worry.

In just a few minutes, with an email and password, you can sign up with POPVOX and immediately start weighing in on bills important to you.

When you sign up, POPVOX identifies your U.S. Representative and your two U.S. Senators for you and stores it on your page, and enables you to send a direct message to them, right where you are, delivery guaranteed. No fooling!

Someone wrote to us recently asking if we are getting a referral commission or something. We wish! But no, we just love them. We have been with them since they launched years in 2010.

Speaking of which, if you need talking points on any pending horse legislation, check out The Horse Fund’s Stakeholders’ page for inspiration. We have lots to say there — as usual.

Oh, and while you are at it on POPVOX, contact your two U.S. Senators and ask them to cosponsor H.R.961’s companion bill in the Senate — S.2006.


We don’t have time to waste.

There is congressional rule instituted this year stating when you get 290 or more cosponsors on a bill, you can bypass all the committees it has been assigned to and make a motion for a debate and vote. The promoters of the horse soring bill have already successfully used this provision. Why haven’t we accomplished this yet on the horse slaughter bill?

This is a moment of great opportunity. Do you know how many of our bills outlawing horse slaughter have “died in committee”? All but one. This is tragic.

Together we can turn this tragedy into a long awaited and cherished victory. Ask your U.S. Representative to cosponsor H.R.961 and your U.S. Senators to cosponsor S.2006.


Removing the tens of thousands of horses from crossing into Canada for slaughter would severely hurt, maybe even cripple, the horse slaughter business there. Wouldn’t that be an achievement not just for our horses, but all horses who are mercilessly killed there?

Thank you everyone.

See H.R.961 Cosponsors at »

See “Died in Committee”, Tuesday’s Horse »

Updated 10:11 am EST