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Apr 30, 2001 02:02 PM

horse meat

  • c

Is horse meat available for sale inside
the USA? I've never seen it on offer.

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  1. i ave never seen it for sale either, i would imagine it is like beef, but it might be illegal

    1 Reply
    1. re: tim

      It is easy to find in Québec, not only at butcher's shops but even in supermarkets.

    2. It is perfectly legal, but all slaughter houses prefer to sell the meat in Europe where they can make a significantly larger profit since not many people like horse meat here. Personally, I despise the idea of eating horses, since they are basically my life. But to each their own I guess.

      7 Replies
      1. re: BeatlesRBetter

        Welcome to CH. Old threads get brought up here all of the time. There is a two year old thread about humus active right now. AFAIK CH has always preferred that Vs duplicate threads so don't worry about it. ;)
        Selling horse flesh for consumption is illegal in some states and there was a bill to make it illegal across the country but I have no idea what ever happened with that.
        In either event there has been a lot of horse meat processed in the USA over the years and exported to Europe.

        1. re: BeatlesRBetter

          Its not legal currently in the US, and hasn't been for several years, as Congress passed a law banning it in 2004 or 2006. The recent slaughtering of nearly 20 pet horses in southern Florida is truly sad:
          Police suspect black market behind butchering of at least 17 animals

          1. re: anniemax

            I'm not sure that's entirely accurate but I would enjoy seeing any links to substantiate one way or the other. IIR the laws that have been passed thus far are solely in regard to commercial horse slaughter in the US. I believe one of our congressmen from MI tried to a get an additional law passed that would make it illegal to even posses horse flesh or transport it for consumption. As it stands horse flash can be legally consumed in many states unless there has been a law passed in 2009 that I am un-aware of. The issue here was that horse flesh historically has been treated as an argricultural issue and currently there are those who want possesing or consuming horse flesh to be a crime.
            These seem like two very different issues in a legal sense.

            1. re: Fritter

              While i am ignorant of the laws surrounding this matter,horse meat (which i love)
              is nowhere to be seen in my neck of the woods(London)
              However there are rumors that Bocca di Lupo is trying to secure a supply of the
              stuff.Till then i'll have to wait for my occasional escapades to Italy....

              1. re: guyboxer

                As taboo as it is is here in the US there have been some fairly famous places that served horse meat in the past including the Harvard University Faculty Club.


                1. re: guyboxer

                  next time after you exit the Chunnel, turn left and keep going north until you hit Antwerpen [in Flanders]. the restaurant specialises in horse steaks, is located precisely behind/next to the town's cathedral. not so sure about the sterling to euro exchange rates these days but it can't be too bad, now can it. [the meat is imported from America...]

                2. re: Fritter

                  My memory was slightly off, what happened was Illinois passed a law to, which closed its only horse slaughter facility. Additionally, in 2005 Congress passed Section 794 or the FY 2006 Agricultural Appropriations Act, which was to withheld USDA funding for horse-meat inspections to prevent new facilities from opening & to basically close the last two open in Texas. Unfortunetly there was an end run made, via Federal Meat Inspection Act ("FMIA"), 21 U.S.C. 603 (, which allowed the companies to pay the salaries for USDA inspectors. This was overturned by Humane Society of U.S. v. Johanns
                  United States March 28, 2007 Without USDA inspection, horse meat cannot be sold. It looks like some states allow you to kill your own horse for your own use, while others do not.

                  And yes, you're correct, one of our Michigan Congressmen, John Conyers (D), is the sponsor of H.R.503, Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act of 2009 ( "Amends the federal criminal code to impose a fine and/or prison term of up to three years for possessing, shipping, transporting, purchasing, selling, delivering, or receiving any horse, horse flesh, or carcass with the intent that it be used for human consumption. Reduces the prison term to one year if the offense involves less than five horses or less than 2,000 pounds of horse flesh or carcass and the offender has no prior conviction for this offense."

                  This was the most balanced current article I could find: I can see both sides- I understand the attachment to a horse is very different then to a typical cow or hog (though I still miss my first cow, Elsie). Using older horse meat for human consumption doesn't make a lot of sense to me either, as I would assume it would make for tougher cuts, but then, that may be dealt with in cooking methods. Plus you add in the all the medicines they are given over that may or may not be safe for human consumption. I guess I'm comfortable with using horses, humanly killed, for things like zoo animal food and such. It was easier when we were younger & just told old horses went off to the 'glue factory', wasn't it?

            2. I don't want to point any fingers, but it looks like the resurgence of this thread may be a little more than coincidental!


              1. it was my understanding that the bans on horse meat in the US were not so much about destroying domesticated animals, but the wholesale slaughter of the remaining herds of wild horses, especially in the southwest.

                It used to be a fairly common ingredient in pet food, not sure how current laws affect that issue. My grandmother used to go to a butcher once a month to get horsemeat as a special treat for her cat who apparently liked it much better than beef or pork. It had a sort of odd sweet smell that I did not much appreciate myself. I have no idea what it tastes like.

                11 Replies
                1. re: KaimukiMan

                  I don't like it very much - it does have a slightly-sweet taste; moreover I'm concerned about the chemicals fed to horses over their careers. That is slightly less of a concern in terms of pet food simply because our pets tend to be much shorter-lived.

                  I'm not touching on the ethical issues in this response; they are complex, but I cried about the dear quarter horse who was butchered. I don't like the idea of eating meat at all, but do very poorly healthwise as a vegetarian.

                  It is a very common meat here (Québec) for people who like red meat but want to limit cholesterol intake, but the people I know who used to eat horse now opt for bison.

                  1. re: KaimukiMan

                    Horsemeat has long been a favorite in Japan, eaten raw as sashimi.
                    I resisted it for years, but finally tried it and it was surprisingly good. \
                    It is known as "sakura" for its pink color.

                    1. re: Tripeler

                      American horse meat is contaminated with over fifteen toxins. These medications are marked "NOT INTENDED FOR USE IN HORSES INTENDED FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION". The EU had attempted to work around this toxic issUe by requiring a 180 day "hold off" before slaughter. There is no scientific evidence that this hold off does anything to reduce or remove the many toxins ingested by ALL AMERICAN horses. If you want horse to consume meat, make sure that it is raised specifically for slaughter to ensure it's safety! in this case "DON'T BUY AMERICAN".
                      Bon Apatite!

                      1. re: Woman of the west

                        I was talking about horse meat I have eaten in Japan, which was specifically raised for raw consumption by humans. Horse meat in the U.S. is likely for pets with short life spans.

                        1. re: Tripeler

                          Please know what you're talking about. Japan gets most of its horsemeat from North America. Sometimes they're flown live and slaughtered there, but carcasses are also flown in. Also, horsemeat was OUTLAWED in pet food in the 1970s. 90% of the horses slaughtered in North America are for human consumption.

                        2. re: Woman of the west

                          Please post your references for the toxins. All horses do not receive the same feed or vet services.

                          1. re: NVJims

                            I worked with horses for about ten years and during that time every horse medication I ever administered had that disclaimer on it.

                            I can almost guarantee, for example, that 95% of racehorses in North America receive this:


                            CATTLE: Milk taken from animals during treatment and for 48 hours (four milkings) after the last treatment must not be used for food. Cattle must not be slaughtered for food within 48 hours following last treatment.

                            HORSES: Do not use in horses intended for human consumption."

                            That said, I'm under the impression that a lot of the horsemeat destined for the human plate is specifically raised for it, though this is much less common in North America than in Europe.
                            Little Betsy's backyard pony or Lightning who's past his prime on the racetrack are more likely to end up as large-animal zoo food, I believe. Or so I hope. It turns my stomach thinking that people might be eating all the crap that average horses get medicated with.

                            1. re: Whats_For_Dinner

                              In 2009, over 130,000 US horses - many companions, race horses, personal pets, summer camp horses - were slaughtered in Canada and Mexico for human consumption overseas.

                              Little Betsy's pony or the race track horse that gets sold to a kill buyer at age 4 will likely end up on a human dinner plate. Horse meat has not been used for pet food for well over 20 years in the US. Zoos are phasing it out, due to the public disapproval and the toxic substances. It's not really the best protein and fat profile for big cats, and cats are sensitive to toxins.

                              Meds like Bute (no horse that ever gets Bute can ever be slaughtered legally) the wormers you listed, illegal performance drugs like Cobra venom, steroids, EPOs and fertility drugs in horses off the track. All banned.

                            2. re: NVJims

                              Here's a good, veterinarian fact sheet on meds in horse meat. Click on the link in the second paragraph for a list of the drugs. Of course, illegal performance enhancing drugs won't be on here.


                              1. re: EquinePro

                                Thank you EquinPro for sending the address. AMERICAN HORSES are NOT raised for consumption, their meat is sold in JAPAN, BELGIUM, FRANCE , CANADA ET AL. Just because you are purchasing horse meat in a foreign country does not ensure that your not eating American horse meat! As companion animals, they recieve multiple medications throughout their ENTIRE life that are listed as "Not for use in Horses intended for consumption." This makes the meat unfit for human consumption, period. Still American horses continue to be shipped to Canada and Mexico for slaughter. Proponants of slaughter would have you think that that this is a reasonable, effecient way to dispose of horses that can no longer perform their "jobs". It is, in fact a way to make money from the waste stream of horses versus spending the $150.00 to euthanize and bury or compost your horse. The responsibility lies soley with the horse owners to ensure as painfree a death as possible. Euthanizia is the ONLY human end of life solution for all of Americas Horses.
                                The responsibility of users of this site is to eat only USDA inspected meats, to ensure they are not consuming meat laden with toxins.
                                Just remeber, Anerican Horse meat it too toxic for dog food, and Zoo animals, you may want to re-think feeding it to you family!

                                1. re: Woman of the west

                                  I've now seen two studies that said 100% of racehorses are given Bute, a human carcinogen. Here's a link to one of the reports and related info:

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