Steak, Chicken or Horse? Obama Deregulates Horse Meat for Human Consumption

horses

A five year ban lifted by Congress last month could allow for the sale of horse meat for human consumption if facilities meet federal inspections. The decision came as a result of the recession, which hit just as a federal ban on horse slaughter was passed in 2007, and according to a federal report, a rise in horse neglect and abuse across the country.

As part of the spending bill, President Obama signed the law on November 18th nullifying the law that restricted funding for horse meat inspections, but opponents say that lifting the ban on horse meat could actually cost taxpayers as much as $5 million a year.

After concerns by animal rights activists and others opposed to the bill, the USDA issued a statement on the issue, citing that there are currently no slaughterhouses in the U.S. that are in a position to process horses for human consumption; but in the case that facilities capable of meeting requirements for human-grade horse meat processing were to begin operating, they would be subject to federal inspections.

Although the last U.S. slaughterhouse facility that butchered horses only closed in 2007, Americans have not eaten horse meat in any notable capacity since the 1940s. It is illegal to slaughter horses for human consumption in both California and Illinois and heavily regulated in a dozen other states, and animal protection organizations such as the Humane Society of the United States predict controversy, legal action and public outcry if horse slaughter facilities begin operating.

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Jill Ettinger

Jill Ettinger is a Los Angeles-based journalist and editor focused on the global food system and how it intersects with our cultural traditions, diet preferences, health, and politics. She is the senior editor for sister websites OrganicAuthority.com and EcoSalon.com, and works as a research associate and editor with the Cornucopia Institute, the organic industry watchdog group. Jill has been featured in The Huffington Post, MTV, Reality Sandwich, and Eat Drink Better. Twitter @jillettinger | www.jillettinger.com.