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.

Talking points about horse slaughter

Beauty was a ‘throwaway’, a horse nobody seemed to want, slaughter bound in a feedlot. 'Well, I wanted her!' says the lady who rescued her.
Beauty was a ‘throwaway’, a horse nobody seemed to want, slaughter bound in a feedlot. ‘Well, I wanted her!’ says the lady who rescued her. A federal bill protecting U.S. horses from slaughter called the SAFE Act is currently pending. Please contact Washington today to support it.

It isn’t right to assume that everyone has heard about horse slaughter and why it exists. We have been working against it for so many years, we sometimes forget that.

So let’s look at some talking points about the slaughter of horses for human consumption, with particular ones relevant to H.R.961/S.2006 (the “SAFE Act of 2019”). There’s also a Take Action section at the end.



Polls taken in 2006 and 2012 confirm that 8 out of 10 Americans are opposed to horse slaughter, regardless of gender, political affiliation, their geographic location or whether they live in urban or rural areas.

Horse slaughter is driven by a demand for horse meat by overseas consumers who consider it a delicacy. It is not a service for “unwanted” horses.

Horse slaughter creates a salvage or secondary market which encourages indiscriminate breeding and neglect by providing a “dumping ground” for unscrupulous individuals.

Horses purchased for slaughter are not old, unhealthy or “unwanted” and could continue to be productive.

Predictably “kill buyers” who make a living supplying horses to slaughter plants are interested in buying the healthiest horses for the production of horse meat.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Guidelines for Handling and Transporting Equines to Slaughter 92.3% of horses arriving at slaughter plants in the U.S. were deemed to be in “good” condition.

Another byproduct of horse slaughter is horse theft. Horse slaughter plants are aware that horses are stolen to be brought to their facilities but they simply do not care.

When California banned horse slaughter in 1998, horse theft fell by 39.5%. In the years that followed, the State saw the decrease in horse theft rise to 88%.

H.R.961 and S.2006

Although horses are not currently slaughtered on U.S. soil due to a recurring federal ban in the annual spending bill for inspections required by law to export their meat, horses are bought and transported across U.S. borders to Mexico and Canada to be slaughtered for human consumption.

Horse slaughter plants in Mexico and Canada see horses as “meat on the hoof” and could care less about their history, medical or otherwise, or how they got there.

Horses receive multiple medications such as steroids, dewormers and ointments throughout their lives barring their meat from entering the human food chain.

Phenylbutazone (“Bute”) — commonly known as the horse “aspirin” and is as common to horses as human aspirin is to humans — is a known carcinogen and can cause aplastic anemia in humans.

Horses treated with Phenylbutazone bars them from entering the human food chain.

Dr. Nicholas Dodman, in a paper entitled “Association of phenylbutazone usage with horses bought for slaughter: a public health risk”, states:

The permissive allowance of such horsemeat used for human consumption poses a serious public health risk.

See also Do Not Use in Horses Intended for Human Consumption: Horse Meat and Its Public Health Danger, by Jessica Rose Sutcliffe.

Kill buyers for the horse meat industry ignore a slaughter horse’s medication history and so do the slaughterhouses — especially concerning Bute — or 8 out of 10 horses who arrive there from the U.S. would be turned away.


H.R.961 / S.2006 (the “SAFE Act of 2019”) is a bipartisan measure that would outlaw horse slaughter operations in the U.S. and end the current export of American horses for slaughter.

Contact your U.S. Representative (H.R.961) and both U.S. Senators (S.2006) in Washington and ask them to cosponsor the SAFE Act of 2019.

If you can’t do it right now, please make a note to yourself, or put it on your “to do” list. It is critical for the safety and welfare of our horses that we all take part. Thank you!

Go here to take action »

The Legislative Process (video)

Join The Horse Fund's Horse on the Hill.
Capitol Dome Fresco, Washington D.C. Can you spot the horses?

The Legislative Process

It can be very challenging yet rewarding to take part in the legislative process, working to shape and enact laws that are just and fair.

You do this every time you take part by contacting your federal legislators in Washington to sponsor or oppose bills pending before Congress.

Learn how it works so you can make it work to the benefit of our horses.


The Library Congress at has a series of videos explaining the legislative process. These videos are informative no matter what level of knowledge or experience you have.

Here’s the first in a nine part series.


We hope you will join us and take action on behalf of horses, giving them a strong and consistently well-informed voice in Washington.


H.R. 961 — The SAFE Act of 2019 (banning horse slaughter)
Goal: 290 Cosponsors. The U.S. House of Representatives currently has 435 Members.

S. 2006 — Companion Bill of H.R. 961

Instructions on How to Take Action »

Thank you!

H.R. stands for House Resolution.
S. stands for Senate.

H.R. 961 & S. 2006 — Take Action Kansas and Kentucky

US Capitol Dome and Flag.

US Capitol Dome and Flag.

H.R. 961 — The “SAFE Act of 2019” & S. 2006

A big hello and welcome to the horse loving citizens of Kansas and Kentucky.

Are you ready to take action and help get us the necessary cosponsors to blast H.R. 961 (The SAFE Act of 2019), out of Committee and onto the House Floor for a vote? Right now H.R. 961 has 160 cosponsors. Our target — 290!

Below are the U.S. Representatives from the States of Kansas and Kentucky. The ones who have already cosponsored are marked with a big YES.


District 1: Roger Marshall [R]
District 2: Steve Watkins [R]
District 3: Sharice Davids (D) — YES!
District 4: Ron Estes [R]


District 1: James Comer [R]
District 2: Brett Guthrie ([R]
District 3: John Yarmuth [D] — YES!
District 4: Thomas Massie ([R]
District 5: Hal Rogers ([R]
District 6: Andy Barr [R] — YES!

If they have not cosponsored, you know what to do. Contact them now and ask them to please cosponsor this important bill that protects people from being exposed to toxic horse meat and horses from slaughter.

Here’s a link that walks you through it without leaving Tuesday’s Horse.

S. 2006

Please note that H.R. 961 now has a companion bill in the U.S. Senate — S. 2006, so contact both of your U.S. Senators too while you are there. Please note that this is a bipartisan issue.


Share this on Twitter. Popular hashtags are #HR961 #Yes2SAFE #HorseMeat #FoodSafety #NoToxicHorseMeat

Last updated 7/18/2019 3 pm EST