Picture this…you’ve just finished a big juicy cheeseburger, complete with all the trimmings when your server comes up to you and asks “how did you enjoy your horse-burger?” Yikes!!! This is exactly….ok well not exactly….this is sort of, what happened to many people across Europe earlier this year when trace amounts of horse meat was found in beef products in various countries.

Recently citizens of the UK, France and Sweden found out they were indulging in burgers, meatballs and sausage made from the distant relatives of Mr. Ed, instead of the beef they thought they had been eating. Food officials have come forward saying that the trace amount of horse meat found in ground beef that has been sold across Europe has not only sparked massive recalls, but also many lawsuits have recently been filed.

Horse Meat Could Be Used in US for Human Consumption

For those of us situated here in the US, Horse slaughter for human consumption was banned here in the US in 2007; however the regulation expired in 2011 and despite insistence by the Obama administration to reinstate the ban, congress has failed to do so. Since companies in the US were not previously allowed to slaughter horses for human consumption, horses were often shipped to Mexico and Canada for slaughter instead, but unfortunately it seems this may all change very soon. Recently a slaughterhouse located in Roswell, New Mexico owned by Valley Meat Co., began the approval process that would allow them to slaughter horses and sell the meat for human consumption. In addition to this a restaurant located in Philadelphia Pennsylvania has already announced its plans to add horse meat to its menu in the near future.

So how did they do it? A lawsuit of course! Valley Meat initiated a lawsuit against Tom Vilsack, the agriculture secretary, and Al Almanza, the head of the food safety inspection service. The lawsuit alleges that the failure to offer inspection services in order to produce horse meat directly violates the Federal Meat Inspection Act, which directs the department to provide inspection for ‘‘all amenable species’’ (including cattle, sheep, pigs, goats, horses, and mules) before they go for slaughter.

According to Valley Meat’s attorney A. Blair Dunn, the Justice Department has requested 60 additional days to respond to the lawsuit. Until then we shall see. This potential change in policy has sparked debate nationwide of people rejecting the notion of eating horses for dinner, but many longtime advocates of ethical eating point to the hypocrisy of eating cows, pigs, and chickens but condemning other non-traditional meat eating.

Horse Meat Found in Beef Products

Furthermore, many US consumers have expressed their worry about a repeat of the European fiasco. With large companies such as Tesco, Nestle, and Ikea forced to recall food from 14 counties since many of their products purporting to be 100 percent beef in fact contained small amounts of horse meat, many US consumers are worried for the same reasons. So where do we draw the line between right and wrong when it comes to the consumption of farm animals? For now there may be no logical answer to that question. Let us just hope that there is full disclosure here in the US as to what exactly is being served up in our meat patties, meatballs, and sausages! As for me, I will continue to stay away from red meat for various reasons, but especially now that this little equine snafu has come to light!