Valley Meat Company in Roswell, New Mexico, is the first meat plant to receive federal approval to slaughter horses in the United States for meat since a ban was imposed by Congress in 2006.
Although animal rights groups are already reportedly filing for an injunction, the U.S. Agriculture Department states it is required by law to issue a "grant of inspection" to the company, because it met all federal requirements.
The USDA is now obliged to assign meat inspectors to the plant, which means they will routinely make sure it is slaughtering horses and processing horse meat in a “clean” way, explains Mike Adams of Natural News.
Horse meat slaughterhouses were banned during the Bush administration, but on November 18, 2011, the ban was lifted by President Obama when he signed the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2012.
This followed a government investigation that claimed the domestic ban had shifted the site of butchery of horses to Mexico and Canada, resulting in increased abuse or neglect of horses shipped beyond the reach of U.S. law, the Washington Times reported.
An estimated 130,000 U.S. horses are shipped annually to slaughter in Canada and Mexico, according to Reuters.
After President Obama signed the Agriculture-spending bill, the USDA said it was again ready to conduct inspections should anyone plan to open a horse-slaughter plant in the U.S. It just announced that it may soon issue “grants of inspection” for plants in Missouri and Iowa.
Horse meat cannot be sold as food in the United States, but it can be exported. Horse meat is sold for human consumption in China, Russia, Mexico and other foreign nations and is sometimes used as feed for zoo animals, Reuters reports.
“While horse meat can’t legally be sold in the USA for human consumption, it can be used in pet food. It may also turn up in the U.S. food supply despite its legal status because it can be sold to Mexico for human consumption, then re-labeled and shipped back into the USA for use as a low-cost meat filler,” states Natural News.
During a food-fraud scandal that swept over Europe earlier this year, meat from British horses was discovered in takeout burgers and kebabs, according to the Daily Mail. The burgers were labeled as beef and the kebabs as lamb. An alarming twist suggested retired racehorses and ponies could have been sold as regular meat.
The European scandal began in mid-January 2013, when Irish food inspectors announced they had found horsemeat in some burgers stocked by UK supermarket chains.
The USDA assures us that it has safeguards to keep horse meat out of the American food supply.