Racetrack Drugs Put Europe Off U.S. Horse Meat

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Racetrack Drugs Put Europe Off U.S. Horse Meat

By Karen Dawn, DawnWatch

The Sunday, December 9, New York Times included a report, by Joe Drape, titled, "Racetrack Drugs Put Europe Off U.S. Horse Meat."

It opens with:

For decades, American horses, many of them retired or damaged racehorses, have been shipped to Canada and Mexico, where it is legal to slaughter horses, and then processed and sold for consumption in Europe and beyond.

Lately, however, European food safety officials have notified Mexican and Canadian slaughterhouses of a growing concern: The meat of American racehorses may be too toxic to eat safely because the horses have been injected repeatedly with drugs.

Despite the fact that racehorses make up only a fraction of the trade in horse meat, the European officials have indicated that they may nonetheless require lifetime medication records for slaughter-bound horses from Canada and Mexico, and perhaps require them to be held on feedlots or some other holding area for six months before they are slaughtered."

With regard to that "fraction" Drape writes:

Some 138,000 horses were sent to Canada or Mexico in 2010 alone to be turned into meat for Europe and other parts of the world, according to a Government Accountability Office report. Organizations concerned about the welfare of retired racehorses have estimated that anywhere from 10 to 15 percent of the population sent for slaughter may have performed on racetracks in the United States.

The article refers to information Drape has shared in previous excellent articles on the state of the racing industry, in which we learned, as he writes in this article, that "prominent trainers have been disciplined for using legal and illegal drugs, and horses loaded with painkillers have been breaking down in arresting numbers."

Here's more on that issue:

A New York Times examination of American horse racing showed an industry still mired in a culture of drugs and inadequate regulation and a fatal breakdown rate that remains far worse than in most of the world. The examination found that 24 horses died each week at America’s racetracks and that in one recent three-year period, more than 3,800 horses had positive drug tests, mostly for illegally high levels of prescription drugs.

This article shines a spotlight on a system that is so wrong in so many ways. The racing industry is disgusting. And while anybody who receives Dawnwatch must know that I do not value the life of a horse over that of a cow, horse slaughter has some unique cruelties. Because horse slaughter is not currently conducted in the US, and because the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act, which would ban the transport of US horses elsewhere for slaughter, has not yet passed, thousands of horses endure days of transport, stuffed into trucks in all weather conditions, before meeting their deaths by stabbing in Mexican slaughter houses.

The article opens the door for letters to the editor about the horrors of the racing industry, the need for the passage of the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act, or any aspect of human society's treatment of other species.

The New York Times take letters at [email protected] and tells us:

Letters for publication should be no longer than 150 words, must refer to an article that has appeared within the last seven days, and must include the writer's address and phone numbers. No attachments, please.

You may also like to thank Joe Drape for his numerous articles on the dark side of the racing industry (which can be found with a quick Google search). Positive feedback encourages similar coverage in the future. You can email him at:

I send thanks to Marilyn Jasper for calling our attention to this article.

Yours and the animals',
Karen Dawn

(DawnWatch is an animal advocacy media watch that looks at animal issues in the media and facilitates one-click responses to the relevant media outlets. You can learn more about it, and sign up for alerts at http://www.DawnWatch.com. You may forward or reprint DawnWatch alerts only if you do so unedited -- leave DawnWatch in the title and include these parenthesized tag lines. Please go to http://tinyurl.com/254ulkx to check out Karen Dawn's book, "Thanking the Monkey: Rethinking the Way we Treat Animals," which when it was published in 2008 was chosen by the Washington Post as one of the "Best Books of The Year!")