A bill introduced on March 11, 2013, in the United States House of Representatives would ban the transportation of horses or horse parts in interstate commerce by anyone who knows or should know the horse or parts are intended for human consumption. The full text of H.R. 1094 can be viewed here.
Previously an effective ban on transporting horses intended for slaughter was accomplished by Congressional refusal to fund USDA inspections of slaughtering facilities that processed horses. In 2011, Congress lifted the restriction, enabling the processing of horses in the United States. But the recent scandal in the United Kingdom surrounding undisclosed tainting of beef products with horse meat brought attention to another problem: in the United States, horses routinely are treated with drugs such as phenylbutazone (commonly called bute for short), which is toxic to humans in even small amounts. A recent exposé in Newsweek cites a study in Food and Chemical Toxicology that found:
The bottom line: horse meat is not regulated for human consumption in the United States, and American horses probably aren't safe for people to eat.
The new law banning transportation of horses for slaughter would only apply to horses intended for human consumption, so horses still could be shipped for slaughter if they are intended for animal consumption. A primary market for horse meat in the United States is zoos, to feed horse meat to carnivores.
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