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HORSE SLAUGHTER IN ILLINOIS

December 27, 2003

Contact: Gail Vacca, 815-761-4937, glv190@aol.com

US continues to export tainted horsemeat for human consumption

Only hours after the discovery of a Holstein cow infected with Mad Cow disease (BSE), several countries including Japan, Mexico, South Korea and Chile banned the import of US beef and beef products. Their response was directly related to questions raised about the safety of US beef products.

While there is understandable concern for the potential health risk in the consumption of BSE infected beef products, there should be an even greater concern by the US government, the European Union and Asian countries regarding the safety of American horsemeat being imported from the US for human consumption. Horses raised in the United States that are slaughtered and then sold overseas have been throughout their entire lives, fed and medicated in ways that render the meat unsafe for human consumption. Unlike the beef industry, there is no control over the types of medications given to horses and no schedule of withdrawal times allowed for those medications to wear off.

Also, unlike cattle, swine and chickens, there is little control or inspection of horsemeat at the two slaughter plants located in Texas. Currently, laws in the US demand that horses infected with Equine Infectious Anemia either be isolated for the remainder or their life, be euthanized or be slaughtered. When slaughtered the infected meat is then sold to foreign markets for human consumption.

In the US, where horsemeat is not consumed, horse breeders, owners, and trainers do not consider the safety of horsemeat when they feed and medicate their horses. Many of the dewormers and pesticides commonly applied to horses are known carcinogens and are banned for use on animals meant for human consumption.

Reports issued by the USDA confirm that only small amounts of horsemeat are randomly tested. These reports also show that many of the drugs used everyday in the medicating of US horses are never even tested for residue in the meat. Horsemeat that is tested, according to these reports, is consistently in violation of federal drug residue levels. These overages ae sometimes a hundred times greater that what is acceptable for human consumption.

USDA FEDERAL REGISTER (2-28-03) ORDER OF PROHIBITION: FINAL RULE

The following document provides information regarding the extra label use of Phenylbutazone in animals.

II. Phenylbutazone

Phenylbutazone became available for use in humans for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and gout in 1949 (Ref. 1), but is no longer approved, and thus not marketed, for any human use in the United States. This is because some patients treated with phenylbutazone have experienced severe toxic reactions, and other effective, less toxic drugs are available to treat the same conditions (Refs. 1 and 2).

Phenylbutazone is known for its ulcerogenic, nephrotoxic, and hemotoxic effects in horses, dogs, rats, and humans (Refs. 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8). It is known to induce blood dyscrasias, including aplastic anemia, leukopenia, agranulocytosis, thrombocytopenia, and deaths (Refs. 7 and 8). The reported adverse reactions were associated with the human clinical use of 200 to 800 milligrams phenylbutazone per day (Refs. 7 and 8). Hypersensitivity reactions of the serum-sickness type have also been reported in patients with phenylbutazone. The threshold for this effect has not been defined. Therefore, it is unclear what level of exposure would be required to trigger such reactions in sensitive people. Moreover, phenylbutazone is a carcinogen, as determined by the National Toxicology Program (NTP) based on positive results in genotoxicity tests and some evidence of carcinogenicity seen in the rat and mouse in carcinogenicity bioassays NTP conducted (Ref. 3).

"For animals, phenylbutazone is currently approved only for oral and injectable use in dogs and horses. Use in horses is limited to use in horses not intended for food. There are no approved uses of phenylbutazone in food producing animals."
www.fda.gov/OHRMS/DOCKETS/98fr/03-4741.htm

USDA BLUE BOOK 2002

The following chart (page 7) shows that the USDA does not even test horses for the most commonly used medications in the equine community, ie: Banamine, phenylbutazone and the Beta 2 agonist, clenbuterol. Page 13 shows, that horses have the highest percentage of violation in relation to antibiotic overages. Page 14 shows that horses have the highest percentage of overages in relation to avermectins overages.
http://www.fsis.usda.gov/ophs/blue2002/sec4tab.pdf

The following document contains results from pesticide residue testing. Page 16 clearly shows that horses have a far greater violation of pesticide residues contained in the meat.
http://www.fsis.usda.gov/ophs/blue2002/sec6tab.pdf

With the foreign ban on the importation of American beef, a greater concern should be raised on the importing of American horsemeat. While the National Cattlemen's Association continues to downplay the report of infected beef in the food system, the economic impact of BSE could be devastating to the meat industry. Rather than step forward to voluntarily correct the problem of downed animals, the beef industry lobbied hard and fast to crush legislation this year that would have prevented this BSE cow from ever entering the food supply.

The same lackadaisical response to unsafe, tainted horsemeat should cause alarm bells to go off in Europe and Asia. The same countries that are banning imported American beef should be banning American horsemeat. It would seem, though, that the concern for human safety has been overcome by the greed for money. Commenting recently on the failure to pass the Downed Animals Act, Representative Gary Ackerman (D- NY) said: " I blame it on greed, greed, greed. The greed of the industry, the greed of the lobbyists, the greed of the members of Congress."

The lack of control over the horse slaughter plants strongly suggests that the same ban on horsemeat should immediately take effect. Although the US government should be the first to step forward and stop the sale of horsemeat, it will probably take the action of foreign governments to control our own greed by banning the importation of the tainted meat.

 

 


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