Pass the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act
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Horse slaughter is a predatory industry; we do not raise horses in this country for food and as such, medicate them differently from other food animals. Almost every horse in this country has received Phenylbutazone (Bute), which is as ubiquitous in horses as aspirin is in humans. Bute is banned by the FDA from use in any animal intended for human consumption. Race horses are given over 100 different drugs, and many can be found on the FDA NARAD Banned Substance list. These substances are banned from any animal intended for human consumption, because they can cause various illnesses including aplastic anemia (bone marrow failure resulting in the bodies inability to produce blood cells), kidney failure, liver toxicity, and can even cause death. Bute is known as a hypersensitive drug which means no safe dosage for humans can be determined. Currently the USDA does not test for species DNA, they only test for banned substances and certain bacteria.
In 2013, the EU experienced a horse meat scandal where products which were supposed to be beef were found to be comprised of as much as 100% horse meat. US horses are slaughtered for human consumption in Mexico and Canada, as many as 69% of the horses slaughtered were exported from the US for the purpose of human consumption. The US imports several billion pounds of beef from Mexico and Canada, a good portion of that is ground beef, which studies in Mexico have proven 39% of the ground beef samples of Mexican beef contained horse meat. (Flores/Munguia, 2005). Chapman University released a study in 2015 where they sampled commercially processed and sold ground meat products, horse meat was found in some of the samples. Horse meat is already in our food supply.
Wild horses in the US, once captured and then sold for slaughter are not safe for human consumption because of the medications they receive upon round up, but most importantly because US horses are often carriers of Toxoplasmosis and Trichinosis. Toxoplasmosis can cause symptoms which mimic schizophrenia and the diagnosis of schizophrenia has risen drastically over the last few years. (Torrey, Simmons and Yolken, CDC, 2015).
The CFIA (Canadian Food Inspection Agency) tests less than 1% of the horses they slaughter for banned substances, and the EU has, on numerous occasions, found US horses have tested positive for banned substances of Bute and Clenbuterol.
Currently, pockets of illnesses can be found in different areas of the country, autism, schizophrenia, etc. Just as in the 80?s when the government failed to connect the dots to recognize the AIDS epidemic, so are repeating the same mistakes and are missing possible links to the presence of adulterated horse meat in our food supply.
The current timeline for horses going to slaughter is: bought by kill buyer at auction, Craigslist, etc. - sound, healthy horses, averaging between the ages of 4-7. They are then taken to the kill buyers property (feed lot) where the USDA, in violation of the Federal Regulations, provides Slaughter Tags to the kill buyer to place on the horses themselves. (This is supposed to be conducted by inspectors for the USDA APHIS division, currently APHIS has one employee, Joey Aistling, whose job is to oversee the slaughter process for US horses.) This is an impossible task for one person to complete, and so the USDA is violating its own regulations in doing so. 9 CFR 88 is where the regulation can be found. (http://www.usda.gov/oig/webdocs/33601-02-KC.pdf)
In 2015 over 150,000 US horses were sent across the borders for slaughter for human consumption. Not one single horse was inspected by a USDA inspector. Budget cuts have removed over 200 inspectors from the food supply for animals we do eat in this country; as a result there has been a direct correlation between the lack of inspectors and the increase in recalls in the food industry.
Horses sent to slaughter for human consumption are sport horses, performance horses, race horses, work horses, eventing horses, former wild horses, family pets and companions. None have been raised under food safety guidelines. They average between the ages of 4-7, no one wants to eat old and sick animals. They are young, sound, healthy horses and account for less than 1% of the US horse population.
When the transport of US horses ends, the horses which would normally have gone to slaughter will be easily absorbed into the horse industry. Owners will have to take responsibility for the horses they breed, and find alternatives, ie. Training, euthanasia, keeping them, etc. Programs are in place and or in the planning stages to assist horse owners who encounter financial hardships. Costs for euthanasia and disposal vary across the country, avg is approximately $150.00 for euthanasia, $100.00 for rendering and or $250.00 for burial. Of course a bullet is very inexpensive and when done properly is a very humane means of euthanasia.
Public safety in the US and a safe food supply is the responsibility of the US Congress. The only way to protect the food supply from toxic horse meat is to pass the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act S.1214/HR.1942.
We ask that you please cosponsor the SAFE Act to ensure public safety and to prevent contamination of the food supply.
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