Horse: The Other Red Meat

Discussion
Dec 01, 2011
George Anderson

Horse could potentially be on the menu for humans in this country as a five-year ban on inspecting the meat was lifted with a new spending bill signed on Nov. 18 by President Obama.

While the ban has been lifted, the legislation did not allocate money to pay for horse meat inspections. The Department of Agriculture would have to allocate funds from its existing budget to make the plan work.

Proponents of horse meat for human consumption are not looking for it to become a staple of the American diet. Horse meat, however, is considered a delicacy in some Asian and European countries where it sells for around $20 a pound. Domestic use is primarily for animal feed purposes.

Critics of the ban said it has cost America jobs and resulted in older horses being neglected. A study conducted by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) at the request of Sen. Max Baucus (D – MT) found that while horses were not being slaughtered here, they were being shipped to neighboring countries to be butchered.

A Detroit Free Press report cited the GAO’s findings: "From 2006 through 2010, U.S. horse exports for slaughter increased by 148 and 660 percent to Canada and Mexico, respectively. As a result, nearly the same number of U.S. horses was transported to Canada and Mexico for slaughter in 2010 — nearly 138,000 — as was slaughtered before domestic slaughter ceased."

Dave Duquette, president of United Horsemen, a non-profit group that supports horse slaughter, told The Associated Press that investors are ready to go.

"I have personally probably five to 10 investors that I could call right now if I had a plant ready to go," Mr. Duquette said. "If one plant came open in two weeks, I’d have enough money to fund it. I’ve got people who will put up $100,000."

Rep. Jack Kingston (R – GA) said the ban has cost America jobs. A spokesperson for the Congressman told the Free Press, "It’s a $65 million industry in America — it was before it was banned."

Some who oppose horse slaughter believe that lifting the ban may be what’s needed to finally end the practice.

Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA) said in a statement,"I am committed to doing everything in my power to prevent the resumption of horse slaughter and will force Congress to debate this important policy in an open, democratic manner at every opportunity."

Earlier this year, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) introduced the the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act of 2011. If enacted, it and similar legislation in the House would ban the export of live horses to be slaughtered for human consumption.

Discussion Questions: Should the American food industry support the resumption of horse slaughter in the U.S.? Do you see horse meat ever legally making its way onto the food plates of American consumers?

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15 Comments on "Horse: The Other Red Meat"


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Gene Hoffman
Guest
Gene Hoffman
9 years 5 months ago

As we abdicate our horse sense on many fronts these days, it becomes possible that horse meat could find a place on some American plates. The thought’s enough to make one want to “Eat Mor Chikin.”

Joan Treistman
Guest
9 years 5 months ago

I remember how surprised I was to learn years ago that Americans who need less expensive food eat pet food to survive. I’ve never viewed horse meat as a delicacy, haven’t tried it (to the best of my knowledge) and suspect it will not be part of my personal consideration set. Our world is changing and with it how we choose to feed ourselves. Horse meat could legally make its way onto American consumers’ menu choices. Will it find its way onto the food plates of the average family? Perhaps, but not without much image changing support.

David Livingston
Guest
9 years 5 months ago

Well, if you are getting $20 a pound, I’m sure there are some excited investors. We probably should legalize horse slaughter since the only reason we don’t now is because we view horses — like dogs and cats — as pets. We make movies about them winning the Triple Crown or have sitcoms with them talking. This would help thoroughbred race horse owners find a way to better deal with under-performers and injured animals. The Amish have been routinely butchering their Standardbreds when they are no longer able to work. Still I don’t see mainstream supermarkets selling horse.

Steve Montgomery
Guest
9 years 5 months ago

While this may be a topic worthy of debate it is not a topic the food industry should advocate. The upside for the industry is very small and the downside could be huge. I doubt that we will ever see horse meat on menus in the U.S. The perception of horses in this country is more the image portrayed in the new movie “War Horse” than something for the table.

Liz Crawford
Guest
9 years 5 months ago

Inspections, Sh-pections. It’s about the “Bambi Factor”!

Many consumers would be horrified at the prospect of eating horse meat — or — at least inclined to order something else from the menu. Somehow, in this culture, horses are personified like dogs and cats…for many, horses just feel too close to being part of the “human” family.

Ryan Mathews
Guest
9 years 5 months ago

Why stop with horses?

If one wants to be truly global why not put dogs on the menu?

I guess as a horse owner I may be a little biased on this, but I vote no. You don’t have to look much beyond the wholesale slaughter of wild mustangs to understand what might happen if domestic slaughtering were resumed.

Now, while I would vote “No” on the first question the answer to the second question is — unfortunately — probably “Yes.”

Kimberly Long
Guest
Kimberly Long
9 years 5 months ago

I absolutely do not think horse meat should be legal for human consumption in the U.S.; I don’t consider them livestock and I do think them fundamentally different than the traditional animals raised for food. I know vegetarians and vegans would disagree with me, but to me, horses are pets and friends, not dinner. While cows are well, cows.

I’ve never ridden a cow, or gone to chicken shows or even sobbed against the shoulder of a cow or pig when I needed emotional support; I’ve done all these things with a horse. While cows definitely shaped our history through cattle drives, they aren’t the iconic symbol of freedom and beauty of the Wild West. To me, those are big differences between them.

I wouldn’t eat my cat, or my dog, and I certainly would never eat a horse.

Cathy Hotka
Guest
9 years 5 months ago

This is a little Christmas gift from the same Congress that debated whether or not pizza is a vegetable. Good thing we don’t have any real problems in our country, and we can concentrate only on nonsense.

Camille P. Schuster, PhD.
Guest
9 years 5 months ago

I never thought that buffalo meat would become an acceptable, marketable product in the U.S. So could horse meat become acceptable? Never say never. Since horse meat is a delicacy in some cultures and the U.S. is looking so hard to do something to stimulate the economy and there are immigrants who view horse meat as a delicacy, I can see processing plants opening and a limited market growing for horse meat. Since many young children love horses, I do not see a large market for horse meat any more than there is a large market for rabbit.

W. Frank Dell II
Guest
9 years 5 months ago

This is just another example of government making the decisions, not the consumer. Horse meat is eaten in some regions of the world. If approved, there would be sales here. The culture one grows up in has a great influence on what one eats. Like buffalo, there are some who like and will buy, but not everyone. It will always be a small market.

Eliott Olson
Guest
Eliott Olson
9 years 5 months ago

I don’t see much human consumption on the horizon. As before, most will be exported or used as pet food.

Craig Sundstrom
Guest
9 years 5 months ago

Yay, or neigh? I’m not sure which. (I don’t find the “some cultures do it” argument terribly convincing..it only makes me support legislation to keep such people from immigrating here). As for the market, probably there is one, but it’s small and would likely remain such indefinitely; On the other hand, I can remember years ago in Maui there was a restaurant that offered a wild game menu — lion steaks, that sort of thing — so I suppose anything can find a market of some kind.

Ben Ball
Guest
9 years 5 months ago
Perhaps the most notable element of this discussion is the way it drags the effect of cultural paradigms on our consumption habits to center stage. I have been exposed to many different cultures. Living in Australia and traveling Asia, Europe and Latin America for business was a great education in understanding the impact of cultural paradigms. To Americans, kangaroos are the symbol of Australia and koala bears are cuddly zoo animals. To rural Australians ‘roos are vermin to be slaughtered on sight and used for dog food. Koala are nasty little buggers who bite and urinate on anyone trying to get near them. To Asians, monkeys and cats are delicacies. To Americans they are zoo animals and pets. Interestingly, not all the paradigm differences are based on emotion or affinity. The American Indian revered the horse and valued the dog highly — but they ate both routinely as well. The best explanation of how these paradigms fit together I can come up with is that it is driven by a combination of cultural factors. The… Read more »
Mark Burr
Guest
9 years 5 months ago

I think I’m with Cathy Hotka on this one. As well as the ideas expressed by Ryan Matthews and Ben Ball.

There’s a lot to it I’m sure. However, the worst part of it is that I now have the theme to Mr. Ed in my head for the rest of the day!

Jonathan Marek
Guest
9 years 5 months ago

Ben’s points are exactly right. My Polish grandmother called lobsters and crabs “the insects of the sea.” I love em.

There’s a great book called “Good to Eat” that explores why cultures treat different animals as foods, pets, etc. It makes a fairly compelling scientific argument that there is logic to the cultural beliefs.

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