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Oct 17, 2012 09:19 AM

Horse Meat Availability

Hi Chowhounds,

Does anyone know if there is horse meat available in the area, either at a butcher or at a restaurant? I'm getting mixed messages regarding its availability. If this post sounds familiar, it's because my previous one was removed by chowhound staff, so please reply here even if you did reply to the previous one. It'll help others looking for this information to read your replies.


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  1. I do believe that the sale of horse meat for human consumption is illegal in NY State,I only remember this because NJ is now attempting to disallow the sale,transport of horses from or through the state for the purpose of human consumption citing NY's laws.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Duppie

      Carolinadawg's reply below is accurate- it's not illegal in NY state, there just aren't any FDA-approved slaughter houses in the United States to provide it.

    2. There has not been an FDA-approved horse slaughterhouse in the US since 2007, when Congress passed a law prohibiting funding for such. Thus, there is no legal horsemeat available in the US. Last year, the President signed a bill eliminating the ban on funding, so perhaps in the future horsemeat may be available. In the meantime, this article is an interesting, and perhaps enlightening, read on the subject:

      1 Reply
      1. Hi araess,

        Having had horse meat a number of times as a child, I am curious as to the draw.

        I remember it being very bloody and essentially tasteless—because it has almost no fat. Steaks were extremely tough and, when ground, the patties wouldn't hold together by themselves. (They cooked up dry too)

        If the lean aspect is what is appeals to you, have you considered other, more flavorful animal proteins that are still fairly low in fat such as fish, chicken, or very lean cuts of beef or buffalo? (I'm sure these would be a lot cheaper too!)


        Glendale is hungry...

        15 Replies
        1. re: Glendale is hungry

          Tartare de cheval that I've had in Montreal was absolutely amazing. The Altdeutscher Sauerbraten vom Pferd in Germany was one of the best dishes I've ever had period. You ask if I've considered trying chicken, fish, beef, and buffalo. I've not only considered but tried all of those things, in addition to many other animals, but the only thing that tastes like horse is horse.

          1. re: Glendale is hungry

            we had horsemeat in italy and it was quite delicious and "beefier tasting, if that makes sense, than a lot of beef" Im sure its cut-dependant as well as on the experience and skill of the cook..
            Im also wondering why the availability depends on a slaughterhouse - its not impossible to import frozen meat from abroad.

            1. re: jen kalb

              The slaughter houses that export meat to the USA and what sorts of meat that they export have to be approved by the FDA as well. It's my understanding, based on a post in a previous thread that was censored, that none have been approved to export horse meat.

              1. re: araess

                Exactly. it's like Jamon Iberico. Readily available in Spain, but until the USDA approved a slaughterhouse in Spain (2005 or 2006?), it was totally unavailable in the US. there are plenty of places in Canada to buy horse meat, but importation to the US is illegal because the slaughterhouses are not approved by USDA.

                1. re: el jefe

                  Right. Im reading online that a horse slaughterhouse is in the process of being set up in Oregon, mostly for export trade so maybe some meat will find its way into domestic channels from there, eventually..

                  1. re: jen kalb

                    don't count on that. there are different rules and regulations for export and domestic. The biggest problem is that nowhere in the US are horses raised for food. Horses sent to slaughter are unwanted race horses and other animals that have outlived their usefulness. There is no way to keep track of what medications they were taking before being sent to slaughterhouses, thus it will be very difficult to gain USDA approval for domestic consumption. Before the ban in 2007, much of the meat from the slaughterhouses went to zoos.

                    1. re: el jefe

                      We still import horse meat from Canada for zoos and wildlife refuges, big game rehabs, etc.

                      I don't believe that anyone is pushing for the USDA to approve domestic consumption of retired racing horses. I believe the people who are interested in consumption would prefer to have the animals raised with the intent of consuming them, much like cows, chickens, and other animals are in the USA, and much like other countries do that support consumption of horse.

                      1. re: araess

                        Yes, one of the strange consequences of the law. We used to supply our zoos with horse meat and now because of the ban we have to import it.

                        I can't prove or disprove this but my understanding is that until 2007 when the ban was put in effect, none of the horses sent to the slaughterhouses were raised specifically for slaughter. I don't see why that would change.

            2. re: Glendale is hungry

              I'm with you -- I've tried it (not knowing what I was trying, so any preconceived notions were avoided) and I didn't see the appeal. More accurately, I found it to have a very funky off-taste that was unpleasant enough to make me ask what it was so I could avoid it.

              And this from a person who gleefully sits down to beef, lamb, goat, venison, rabbit, quail, duck, and wild boar.

              1. re: sunshine842

                I've thought long and hard about your post here and believe we can conclude one of two possibilities that would result in your experience- either you were served a dish of poor quality, or you just don't prefer meat from horses. We may never know the answer, but it's fun to ponder!

                1. re: araess

                  considering the way everyone else was raving about it, and the credentials of the chef, I'm guessing that it's that I just don't like horsemeat. (and everything else from the chef over a several-day period was delicious)

                    1. re: araess

                      It's always possible that an award-winning chef and a room full of people in France, swooning over an unnamed dish are all making it up and that he's really just a talentless hack who slapped it together and those raving about it are just fankids who'd do anything to get on the chef's good side.

                      But I seriously doubt it.

                      1. re: sunshine842

                        You got me there! Let me know if you know anything about where I can find some horse meat in the area.

                        1. re: sunshine842

                          Considering the difference between butchering/aging meat in France, and in the U.S., do you think that could have any impact on your opinion of horse meat? I have only had horse meat as a kid. It was a gift from a family friend who was a cattleman, and he had had a prize hose slaughtered and dry aged, and we were given choice steaks, which my mother cooked. I didn't know what they were while eating them, but it was very very good. I was pretty sure it wasn't beef because it had a sweetness to it, so I was guessing venison, or elk, or maybe even some sort of cougar meat. When my mother told the family it was horse, my grandmother was very upset, but as long as it was a horse I had not ridden or groomed, I was okay with it. I've never had an opportunity to give horse meat a second try, but I would if I could...

              2. We tried this again, and the answer seems more definitively to be 'not available', so we'd ask people to let this thread go, rather than discussing horse meat they've tried in other parts of the world (a better subject for General Topics, perhaps). We'd prefer not to lock it, so that it may remain in our search results. Thanks!

                1 Reply
                1. re: The Chowhound Team

                  Ooooops! Sorry. I posted before I read your note. My bad.

                2. Sorry to join the discussion so late, but yes, there is horse meat available at a restaurant in Brooklyn.

                  Here's my concern: I know that slaughterhouses were banned in the U.S. a few years ago, but I was under the (not well-researched) impression that the meat itself can be imported legally.

                  But it sounds like some of you are saying that the meat itself is illegal...? If that's the case, then maybe I should shut up, so I don't get the restaurant into any sort of trouble?

                  I thought the meat was delicious and I enjoyed the restaurant in general, but now I'm starting to worry that I should be careful about giving out the restaurant's name. Any thoughts on this, before I accidentally cause trouble for the restaurant?

                  9 Replies
                  1. re: UnitedNationsOfFood

                    While I can understand your desire not to get the restaurant in trouble, please DO keep in mind the risks you - & all other patrons at that restaurant - are taking by consuming what could be illegal horse meat. It may very well not be illegal. But due to the lack of qualified inspectors & the source of the meat, chances can be that any horse meat brought into the U.S. didn't come from any European horse farms - as in horse farms where the horses are bred & raised drug-free specifically for meat. If you've read through this thread, you've surely noted the references to meat that's unbelievably inundated with wormers, supplements, & medications that are definitely dangerous & unhealthy for human consumption. This is because probably 99% of the horses sent to slaughter in the U.S. (& shipped to Canada & Mexico) are previous racers, show horses, even pets - all of which have spent a lifetime on wormers, supplements, & medications that are definitely dangerous & unhealthy for human consumption.

                    Just something to think about while you ponder whether or not to do some investigating &/or turn your Brooklyn restaurant in. You may not care whether or not you end up with serious health problems from consuming it, but someone else less educated might.

                    While it may not currently be illegal for a restaurant to import horse meat, I can only believe that importing premium bred-for-the-table horse meat would be unbelievably expensive - especially when one considers the small market. Unless you paid caviar prices, I'd be very suspect as to the source of that meat. Look it up.

                    (And as a P.S. - I've been involved in the riding, showing, breeding, & raising of horses for decades now, so I know EXACTLY what sorts of supplements, wormers, & drugs go into horses over a lifetime. And that's not meant because I don't think folks shouldn't eat horse meat (although I obviously wouldn't), just that I think they'd think twice if they knew how many pharmaceuticals went into horses. Makes regularly-raised cattle, pork, & poultry look like downright healthy eating - lol!!!)

                    1. re: Bacardi1

                      Ah... so that's why my hat size doubled and my sprint times cut in half! Just kidding.

                      Fair point about the health concerns, Bacardi1. I'm checking with both a horse meat expert and an attorney, and I'll see what I can find out about both the legality and the origins of the meat before I send everybody off for a New York City horse meat happy meal.

                      For what it's worth, horses are also raised purely for meat in a pretty wide swath of central Asia, Mongolia, and China, so it's possible that I was eating some sort of imported meat that was grazed in all-natural Asian grasslands.

                      It's also possible that I am now a walking cesspool of wormers, drugs, and unnatural horse hormones. Good times.

                      1. re: Bacardi1

                        Bacardi, I will admit I don't follow it closely, but I'm not aware of any horse farms in Western Europe raising horses exclusively for meat.

                        In fact, if even a flicker of the anti-horsemeat posters are to be believed (because I'm pretty sure you can't take it at face value) , there are none -- and the meat comes from wherever they can find it...thus possibly including all the miscellaneous meds given by horse owners.

                        1. re: sunshine842

                          You may not be "aware" of them, but they do exist. Good grief - horse meat has & is commonly for sale in French butcher shops for DECADES. If you're so interested, do a websearch in case you think I'm just talking off the top of my pointy little head.

                          In fact, there was a Gordon Ramsay "F Word" episode just a couple of years ago where Janet Street-Porter visited a farm in France dedicated to raising horses specificially for meat. And it was cooked on the episode.

                          So don't post that something doesn't "exist", until you're more "aware". Horse meat IS raised drug & hormone free "over the pond". Whether or not this pristine meat is what reaches our shores is anyone's guess.

                          1. re: Bacardi1

                            Hey -- put down the weapons-- I didn't say it didn't exist, I said I wasn't aware of it. There's a rather significant difference in the meaning of those two statements.

                            And if you'll take a look here:

                            It does say that some animals are raised solely for meat....but if you'll read the FAQs, they do a fairly intricate dance around avoiding addressing the issue of how many work animals and racehorses end up in the food chain.

                            And carefully read this one:

                            It simply isn't possible for horsemeat to be an income-generator for "riding centers, racing stables and other horse-related remain profitable" unless they're butchering animals that have been worked/ridden.

                            1. re: sunshine842

                              Who mentioned it as an income-generator except for the few farms that raise horses specifically for the product? I don't think an income factor was ever a part of this thread. It has to do with source, & whether the source is safe &/or legal.

                              1. re: Bacardi1

                                the article I linked mentioned it as an income generator -- but you can't avoid the fact that if all of those establishments have "meat" as an income generator, they're obviously not raising a herd dedicated to the table.

                                The French site also says that all horses are microchipped and it is up to the individual owner to specify that they are not to be sent for the table.

                                Riding centers, racing stables, and other horse-related interests simply aren't going to dedicate the space and feed and upkeep for horses that aren't being ridden and worked.

                                Legal, yes -- but horses at riding academies and stables and farms are NOT being raised drug-free in most cases.

                      2. re: UnitedNationsOfFood

                        Charles, if I know the place you have in mind, there's nary any horse meat to be found: The restaurant has been closed since Sandy. A new enterprise, perhaps serving the same cuisine, may open on that site within the next month, a worker told me last weekend.

                        Dave Cook

                        1. re: DaveCook

                          Arg, sorry to hear the bad news. Thank you for the update, Dave!