March 11th, 2013
08:53 PM ET

Horse meat slaughterhouse set to open in New Mexico

The European horse meat scandal where products labeled as "beef" were found to contain horse meat hasn't directly affected American consumers.

European outlets of Taco Bell, Burger King and IKEA purchased mislabeled beef that was found to contain horse meat DNA.

That's because the sale of horse meat is illegal here. In fact, for 6 years, even the slaughter of horses for their meat was banned.

But a recent change in federal policy will now allow production of horse meat to be shipped overseas.

CNN's Casey Wian is Out Front in New Mexico, where plans for a horse slaughterhouse are not going down easy with everyone.

Filed under: Animals • News
soundoff (26 Responses)
  1. Libby

    Why don't the Europeans get there own horses to slaughter. I hate the fact that they want to kill the animals. I have a horse I brought from a gentleman his mare was blind in one eye, thank you they didn't take her. I feel sorry for all these horses if I had a place for them all I'd take them. The horses used to be free, but people want what they called the wild west. There are no more places like that any longer, we the people take there habitat that once was theirs. I won't ever agree with the horse slaughters.

    June 8, 2013 at 4:10 pm | Reply
  2. Tyler

    The "we have to slaughter horses so they won't be abused" argument is misguided. I get your point, but it amounts to surrender. Can't beat them join them. What kind of a standard is that? How about we work to end abuse or minimize it as much as humanly possible. We can send robots to Mars I'm pretty sure we can discover ways to protect horses without "humanely" killing them. How about "humanely" protecting them? I just don't think we should give up and say "Whew, if we didn't take that horse's life he might have been harmed in some way!" Do you see what I mean?

    March 25, 2013 at 11:06 am | Reply
    • comedyflyer

      Ditto to every word you wrote here Tyler!

      March 25, 2013 at 2:05 pm | Reply
  3. Amy


    March 15, 2013 at 8:57 am | Reply
  4. Amy

    So let me get this right….instead of having slaughter that will be done humanly, and regulated, you would rather put the unwanted and abandoned horse problem in the united states on the vets? To me this doesn’t make since, vets are kind hearted people who are out to help every animal but they have to make a living to. Horse meat is not as toxic as you all make it out to be. Search the facts, it is just as much protein as cattle, only less calories! All the “toxic” drugs you say we give them, is not true, every drug has a withdrawal time. Which is why you buy a horse, and don’t know the drug history, you cannot ship to slaughter till after a 6 month period. The Risks of Bute: (VERY LOW) Aplastic anaemia is rare. Historic evidence suggests around one person in 30,000 exposed to bute when used as a human medicine suffered a serious side-effect, but they were exposed to significantly higher doses than any residue likely to have entered the food chain. Residues found in horses testing positive for bute have been a thousandth of the therapeutic human dose. The Food Standards Agency advice has been that the risk exists but is very low. You say livestock brokers are evil, every person I know in this business, does everything in their power to save the horses that can be saved! Many will put feed in to them to get them back to healthy weight; they will put training on them, if the horse is not “crazy”! And will rehome if they can. Slaughter is a last resort for everyone! However we’ve banned slaughter in the U.S. in 2007 and just look what it has done, it has tanked the horse’s value, even on high performance level, it has inflated hay, and feed, farrier costs have gone up, and I don’t know about you, but it is getting harder and harder to get a local vet out in a respectful time, as they are having so many calls of either people with sick or lame horses. We need to have a cull system a.k.a slaughter in this country to give overall welfare for every horse. I’m sick and tired of everyone putting horses on a pedestal, when they are livestock! Yes, they can come near and dear to anyone’s heart as they are a beautiful intelligent animal. But hate to break it to you, I’ve had many cattle that have been just as sweet and loving as any horse out there! Sorry about my rant, I’m just tired of everyone trying to put the blame on breeders, which do the research even the big time breeders, have cut back, registries are down! When I was at a family function this past weekend, and was talking to some of my aunt’s and was telling them about this retched fight we are all in, they just point blank told me “Amy, you have the curse of a farmer’s daughter, you are to humane, and don’t want to see any animal suffer!” We that live in every day agriculture, know the benefits slaughter has! Because without it, we have an overpopulation of horses, that in turn because not everybody has the access to slaughter that I have, horses are starving, people are having a harder time even giving horses away for free. It sickens my stomach when I see ads for horses for free… that the most recent one I saw, “was the mare was 10 years old, never been rode, hard to catch, even if you get a halter on her she is hard to handle! Hard on fences, will tear them down. Loving home only, no kill buyers, I will check! “ Now I’m sorry but, a horse like that should go to slaughter before anyone gets hurt. I personally would not even give a horse like that away, as I would not want that on my conscience that someone could get hurt with her! I’m sorry a horse like that, and there are too many like that, is not worth the price of hay it would take to feed her! FACTS: http://www.horsecouncil.org/national-economic-impact-us-horse-industry

    March 14, 2013 at 12:24 pm | Reply
    • Beckette

      Lisa you are correct . There will be virtually no market for this toxic meat.
      Amy, the reason the EU has strengthened the standards and as of July 2013 will no longer accept US horsemeat without a stringent passport is BECAUSE THE MEAT HAS BEEN PROVEN TO BE TOXIC. Of course, you may not believe in SCIENCE, so that of course excuses you from believing this small FACT. Also, if you have a dangerous or unusable horse you are right, you should not give it away. You should have it put down. If you can afford to own a horse, you can afford to put it down HUMANELY. I have had it done to my elderly horses. The total cost for the vet an the rendering haul away was around $275.00

      May 24, 2013 at 2:45 pm | Reply
  5. Jane Tarr

    The slaughter of horses is about as conscionable as killing and eating the family dog. Horses are intelligent, trainable and emotional creatures who have served the human species throughout the history of our development. A horse has strength yet can be gentle, they have determination yet can be tolerant, they have spirit yet can be dedicated. The horse is an animal, but it is not livestock. The horse can become unwanted or unable to be cared for, but that should not warrant slaughter at the hands of a profit-based mentality that seeks to create a commodity of meat from this beautiful animal. With computer technology, the slaughter process is readily available, which I regrettably have viewed. It is not even slaughter, its massacre. The animal is trapped, bolted in the head (can be multiple hits to stun the animal), dropped through a chute to the 'kill' floor, but may not always be unconscious and can physically experience the hoist and decapitation. There is controversy over the humaneness of this process for cattle, let alone a horse. The United States government must prohibit horse slaughter and renew the ban if not make it permanently illegal in America. We can find other solutions for the population of unwanted animals (by not slaughtering or shipping to slaughter in Canada or Mexico). What purpose does this serve for our country and at what level does condoning brutal horse slaughtering place America, the leader among nations? We are better that this and Congress needs to get up off the debate floor and start focusing on this issue and preserve our dignity as conscientious, caring and compassionate people.

    March 13, 2013 at 9:22 am | Reply
  6. Amy

    I respect your choice not to send to slaughter, but ending slaughter will only increase horse abuse! We all hate seeing horses beaten, starved., etc. Which is why we are wanting slaughter plants here in US! We did ban slaughter for horses in 2007, U.S. horses are still being slaughtered in Mexico and Canada. Which they are the horrific pictures and videos you find on Youtube. We need mandated and regulated slaughter plants on U.S. soil, so horses don't have to travel so long by truck, and end up in inhumane treatment across borders.

    March 13, 2013 at 8:40 am | Reply
    • Karin Hauenstein (www.HorseActivist.com)

      The answer to horse abuse and neglect is criminal consequence, since it is illegal. You are completely wrong in your supposition that commercial horse slaughter will "solve" that problem. Commercial horse slaughter in the U.S. will ONLY result in the eventual factory farming of horses for human consumption and will also allow for poor breeding practices to continue. Horses are captive-bred animals, not like dogs and cats. Don't believe the lies and pro-slaughter rhetoric. Commercial horse slaughter is NOT euthanasia! You cannot harvest the meat of an animal that is humanely euthanized. The only way this McNiel in Oklahoma is snowing half her state is through dis-information. Get the facts!

      March 13, 2013 at 3:16 pm | Reply
      • Amy

        My reply to all about euthanasia is, ive seen even chemical "peaceful " euthanasia go wrong! Ive seen horses run around blinded and smacking into things before finally collapse and even then are fighting, causing more harm to themselves! You can try and control breeding, except breeders have cut back, but yet we still have more and more unwanted horses! The main reason, not enough money, hay or land to go around! All you anti's hide behind the breeders are to blame, instead of opening your eyes to the fact of life! To all that all horses are worth saving, put your money where your mouth is!

        March 13, 2013 at 4:23 pm | Reply
  7. Rose Marie

    Animals like horses are such a grand sight, so beautiful, proud, and graceful. The thought of causing them pain, to say nothing of slicing then consuming their lithe muscle for food, horrifies me.

    March 12, 2013 at 11:07 pm | Reply
  8. Karin Hauenstein (www.HorseActivist.com)

    Dr. Lester Friedlander, DVM and former Head Slaughter Inspector/Trainer for the USDA testified before U.S. Congress in 2008, after the 3 foreign-owned plants in the U.S. were already closed, as to the ineffective and inhumane captive-bolt kill process, designed for cattle, that they want to continue using for equine slaughter. The horses are supposed to be "rendered insensible" after ONE shot. Horse skulls found in remnants at slaugherhouses CONSISTENTLY have multiple holes in them from multiple shots with the captive-bolt gun. Commonly they find 4 to 7 holes in the skulls-sometimes up to 30 or more!!!

    Here is a video showing how ineffective and inhumane this process is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BwPqh43_NkM

    De Los Santos is yet to slaughter a horse ever in his facility. He does not know what the USDA officials and many animal welfare investigators do.

    March 12, 2013 at 11:03 pm | Reply
  9. Karin Hauenstein (www.HorseActivist.com)

    Commercial horse slaughter is not humane nor is it euthanasia! Proponents of it are advocating the factory farming of horses for human consumption because the USDA will not legally be able to certify animals not raised specifically for human consumption.

    There is serious risk to human health contained in commercially slaughtered horse meat. The levels of adrenaline and cortisol produced by equines are far, far greater than any legal levels found in any other meat harvested for human consumption. Horses are specifically bred for adrenaline production, not for human consumption.

    The fatally flawed head-shot kill method (severe head trauma) used in all commercial horse slaughter ensures that all of the adrenaline and cortisol that can possibly be produced by the animal is delivered throughout the flesh post shot. This is evidenced to any layman by the pulsing of the animal. In commercial beef production they call this “dark cutting” and the meat is not (supposed to be) legally approved for human consumption. Adrenaline and cortisol consumption by humans causes Colorectal and other forms of cancer.

    It is not just the presence of prohibited medications and other man-made substances in the meat that is illegal-it is the abundance of naturally occurring hormones and steroids that make horse meat more carcinogenic than any other commercially slaughtered meat.

    Dr. Lester Friedlander, DVM and former Head Slaughter Inspector/Trainer for the USDA endorses the above statement and also the following, his testimony to U.S. Congress in 2008: http://www.manesandtailsorganization.org/captive_bolt.htm

    Additional important information can also be found at http://www.HorseActivist.com. Comments encouraged and appreciated. Thank you.

    March 12, 2013 at 10:51 pm | Reply
  10. Candy Nichols

    Thank you for an unbiased look at this issue. As the gentleman from Walkin N Circles stated, once those horses leave our boundaries, we have no more control over how they are treated. The horses who end up in the Mexican plants go two ways. The ones in the best condition go to the large, regulated plants. The less desirable animals go to small, unregulated arbitroirs where they are stabbed in the back to paralyze them, and then their throats are cut,to be bled out. We process thousands of animals a day in this country, in regulated and humane plants. The same can be done for OUR horses with planning and a commitment to animal welfare. I haven't seen far too many horses abandoned or starved because owners felt they had no other recourse. Shelters cannot absorb the number of horses that end up at auctions, unwanted.

    March 12, 2013 at 8:48 pm | Reply
    • Karin Hauenstein (www.HorseActivist.com)

      All they did was show a facility that plans on using the critically-flawed captive-bolt kill process on horses, which has been proven to be ineffective and inhumane. This report did not show any other side of this issue, including the harmful, prohibited substances, medications and elevated adrenaline and cortisol in the meat "product." The kill buyers trucks are not going to run in any more humane ways, they are not going to stop packing horses in and not stopping to water or provide care. Those trucks would still run hundreds of miles to a place not far from they are now. The solution is to pass the American Horse Slaughter Protection Act like the President and his cabinet are supporting!

      March 13, 2013 at 3:21 pm | Reply
    • Suzanne Moore

      Candy ~ I have seen with my own eyes what our "regulated" horse slaughter plants did to our horses. You have not. My advice is to shut your mouth and listen to those who were there and SAW exactly what horse slaughter is really like. I lived only 30 miles from Dallas Crown in Kaufman, TX for 15 years. You know NOTHING.

      Plus, our transport is the most cruel in the world. Europeans are aghast when they see what our transport is like compared to theirs. Having seen both, I totally agree with them.
      Commercial Transportation of Equine to Slaughter Act ( 9 CFR PART 88 ) Violations: http://www.kaufmanzoning.net/violationsfoia.html

      September 30, 2013 at 8:27 pm | Reply
  11. Barbara Leonard

    For what earthly reason (except bribes) would the USDA allow Valley Meats in NM to open as a horse slaughter plant when the USDA closed down Valley Meats when they butchered cattle? Would that make sense to anyone with a brain? Which brings me to the USDA. Because of sequester cuts, they will have to furlough some inspectors at plants that DO produce meat for us to eat....therefore, it's completely illogical to spend our tax dollars for USDA inspectors at horse slaughter plants for the benefit of foreign owned companies for meat we do NOT eat....and we should never eat horsemeat. Too many chances for toxic meat. Most of our US horses have been given drugs during their lifetime. And, although because of the ethics (or lack of) of those involved in the kill buying of horses, it's very common for a kill buyer to sign a paper saying the horse is drug free when he's only owned the horse for an hour. That's how the toxic horsemeat gets into the EU food supply. Nearly every drug given to horses (even something as simple as horse de-wormer) has printed on the label: Not intended for horses used for human consumption. The reason for this is the TOXIC drugs. Starting in July, 2013, the EU will not accept horses that do not have lifetime vet records, which will eliminate US horses from being accepted for slaughter.....so who would be stupid enough to want to open a horse slaughter plant???

    March 12, 2013 at 11:16 am | Reply
  12. comedyflyer

    Horse meat is toxic. There are no controls & kill-buyers forge papers. Look in any horse magazine & look at the amount of drugs & products that go into & on to horses. Horse slaughter is not humane euthanasia.. Horses are companion animals who have been in the service of man for centuries...they are not our food! Most humans have evolved & do not eat animals that have become our companions...re....horses, cats, dogs ect Former companion animals that find themselves in these kill plants for one reason or another will be stressed...so that meat will not be good for you. These poor unfortunates know what is happening & will not understand why they are all of a sudden they are being treated so cruelly .....shame on these people for wanting to open this plant up.....Get a real job!

    March 12, 2013 at 11:03 am | Reply
    • Amy

      It is not as toxic as all you believe! If it was Europe would not except our horses after 6 month waiting period! All drugs have withdrawal times! Before you say Bute causes cancer, two things; 1. The traces found in horses is 1/300th of amount of the dose given to humans! And even tjen you have a 1 in 30,000 chance it would affect you anyway! 2. What doesn't cause cancer anymore?

      March 13, 2013 at 4:32 pm | Reply
      • comedyflyer

        As an adult it is your right to eat what you please....but it is such a slippery slope to think that children will have this bute meat fed to them. Children are the ones with the most to loose if they ingest bute...Google what just the smallest amt. does to children. My 9 horses are my companions...not my food. When & if the day ever comes that I can not afford to feed my pets, they will be humanly euthanized on my property. They will never know the terror of transportation with no rest, food or water, rough handling, the cold sterile Metal environment of a slaughter house or the smell of fear & blood ect on MASS as it happens to hundreds of other horses around them.....Slaughter just makes people rich...follow the money trail!

        March 13, 2013 at 11:26 pm | Reply
      • hoofhugs

        The European Food Safety Inspection Service has stricter requirements that the US. (See Irish Veterinary Journal, 2010). The truth is that there are no good tests to detect phenylbutazone residue in the horse. No US horse has ever not been slaughtered because of phenylbutazone bonding, but phenylbutazone is pervasive, legal, and improves the lives of horses. Most owners would not dream of slaughtering their horses. In fact, most Americans cannot put the words slaughter and horse in the same sentence. It is unfortunate that the AVMA tried to tell Americans that horse slaughter is humane because no one who knows anything about it agrees with that assessment. Just wait until the public finds out what was behind this position. It was not horse or human welfare, both of which veterinans are supposed to care about.

        March 14, 2013 at 1:51 am | Reply
      • Suzanne Moore

        BANNED drugs such as bute do NOT have withdrawal periods, Amy. Check it iut on the USDA web site. They are the regulators here, not the USDA.

        In fact, NO drug once taken ever totally clears from the body – human or horse. That's because they clear exponentially, and that NEVER goes to 0. It may be below the levels TESTED FOR, but that certainly doesn't mean they aren't there. No one knows how low the level of bute – and others like it – need to be to be safe for everyone because reactions to bute vary so widely, and yes, children are especially endangered by the smallest amount of this powerful drug. That's WHY it is BANNED from use in food animals in every country in the world.

        September 30, 2013 at 8:44 pm | Reply
  13. Ann White

    Bringing back "Horse Slaughter" in America is insane!!! Because of the mid-western/western drought and the large cattle sell off..slaughter profiteers see dollar signs in the unfortunate economic downslide effecting horse owners and unscrupulous horse breeders. If the Blood Ain't Runnin'...The Cash ain't flowing! Let the truth be told...young healthy animals are "Market Profit"...and to fill a slaughter bound truck..the weak and diseased horses, ponies, mules, and donkeys with broken bodies are crammed into unfilled space! These innocent spirit's suffer in silence.in pain..frightened beyond belief! Equine slaughter is NOT merciful! View the videos if you dare...once viewed, your dreams will be filled with nightmares. Americans are not interested in eating a TOXIC MEAT PRODUCT....Do we have the right to poison another countries food supply? The tide is turning overseas and the truth is out about American Horse Meat...it will be banned....The short lived "Blood Profiteers" of equine slaughter will profit while they can..then turn their "Houses Of Death" towards the cattle market when the rains return. Most of the 1% of throwaway horses in this country can be absorbed into the rescue system...People that RESPECT HORSES in this country have organized and are on the front lines every moment to Speak Up for the voiceless!! The tragedy of it all falls into the Blood Soaked hands of the unmerciful Equine Breeders that run unchecked!

    March 12, 2013 at 8:39 am | Reply
  14. Mary Berg Broyles

    Horse slaughter is not humane and should not be conducted in the United States. This planned slaughterhouse in New Mexico must be stopped. Almost all domestic horses in this country have been treated with various chemicals which renders them unusable for human consumption. So, if this plant thinks to generate revenue by slaughtering horses and shipping the meat around the world, they will be shipping meat contaminated by de-wormers and vaccinations. The cruel method for slaughter of horses also floods the meat with hormones that are released when the animal (just like humans) release hormones. It is simply a very wrong plan. I cannot believe such a beautiful state as New Mexico is going to allow this to happen.

    March 11, 2013 at 10:58 pm | Reply
    • Steve Anson

      No animal slaughter is humane. Horse slaughter is beginning here again because the horse slaughter in process in Europe was worse and subjected the poor animals to far longer, more miserable journey. The answer is to stop eating meat. All animals very super intelligent pigs, to cows, to lambs all feel fear and horrible pain.

      March 12, 2013 at 1:37 pm | Reply
  15. Lisa

    What about the European restrictions that will be ending the import of US horse meat this summer? Most horse owners including myself give medications to our horses that are labeled "not for animals intended for human consumption".
    .Europe is in the midst of a huge horse-meat scandal, so a lot of attention is now turning to exactly WHERE horsemeat comes from. I predict that it will not be possible in the near future to sell horsemeat from sources that cannot be proven to be free of toxic medications, wormers etc... North America does not have the same "horse passport" system that countries like Germany have that require ALL medications to be listed, and the horse to be declared non-slaughter (means all meds can be given) or slaughter (means meds are seriously limited) in those horse passes. No pass – no legal slaughter. So – now that Europeans are becoming aware that the horses they have been eating are of a low (meat-wise) quality (it was sold as beef, but actually was a mix of horse, pork and beef from unknown sources) – just wait for the import restrictions to hit. I predict soon that sellers can forget about butchering show horses, track horses, any horse who has had meds for meat. Only horses would then be legally slaughtered that are basically raised for meat from the get-go (like they are in countries like Switzerland) or feral horses (which are supposed to be protected). Most domestic horses are not going to make the slaughter qualifications, because of meds. If you look at the European stats on horses that they have studied being slaughtered for meat, they are heavily weighted with track horses and QH horses – probably horses that have had meds – a lot of articles are going around now talking about how unhealthy that meat is. Europeans are starting to get aware of this, and are unhappy about it. Companies like Burger King and Nestle have been found to have sold pork and horsemeat as beef – there is a lot of interest in this right now – and the European Union is going to have to act soon. If they act to shut down the import of horsemeat that cannot be guaranteed not to have had meds – well, what horses are going to be slaughered? Not enough to keep a slaughterhouse open for long.

    March 11, 2013 at 9:56 pm | Reply

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