Amid horse meat concerns, lawmakers introduce legislation to stop horse slaughter

Editor’s Note: Dr. Katy Nelson is an emergency veterinarian in Alexandria, Va.

Katy Nelson, special to

WASHINGTON – Members of Congress, national animal welfare groups, veterinarians and equestrians gathered on Capitol Hill Wednesday to support legislation that would protect horses and the American public.

The ASPCA, Animal Welfare Institute and the Humane Society of the United States joined Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and Reps. Patrick Meehan (R-Penn.) and Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) as they introduced federal legislation to stop the killing of American horses for human consumption and prohibit the transport of horses across the U.S. border for slaughter.

The passage of Safeguard American Food Exports Act of 2013 would prohibit horse slaughter operations in the U.S., end the current export and slaughter of more than 160,000 American horses abroad each year and protect the public from consuming toxic horsemeat.

A January 2012 national poll commissioned by the ASPCA says 80 percent of American voters oppose the slaughter of horses for human consumption. Yet, last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced a plan to process an application for inspecting horse slaughter at a New Mexico facility. If the application is approved, Valley Meat Company LLC will be the first facility to slaughter horses for human consumption since 2007, when the few remaining plants closed and Congress suspended funding for any further horse meat inspections.

There is growing concern among American consumers that horse meat will make its way into ground beef products in the U.S. as it has done in Europe. Major companies, including Tesco, Nestl

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