Horse Meat Found in Other Ground Meat Sold in U.S.

Research into the mislabeling of meats has uncovered horse meat mixed in with other ground meat sold in the U.S. commercial market.
For a study of ground meat products sold in the U.S., researchers from the Food Science Program at Chapman University in California analyzed 48 samples and found that 10 were mislabeled.
One sample was entirely mislabeled with regard to what type of animal meat it contained. Nine samples had meat from an additional type of animal mixed in. In two of those cases, the mix contained horse meat, which is illegal to sell in the U.S.
Rosalee Hellberg, an assistant professor in the Food Science Program and co-author on both studies, states in a news release from Chapman University:
“Although extensive meat species testing has been carried out in Europe in light of the 2013 horsemeat scandal, there has been limited research carried out on this topic in the United States. To our knowledge, the most recent U.S. meat survey was published in 1995.”
© Flickr user 'Danielle Scott'
 The study notes two possible explanations for multiple types of animal meat being found in the same ground meat product:
  • Unintentional cross-contamination at the meat processing facility. This occurs when multiple types of animal meat are ground on the same equipment without it being properly cleaned in-between.
  • Intentional mixing in of a lower-cost animal meat with a higher-cost meat for economic gain, such as to reduce costs or increase profits.
Another study by the same researchers found that 10 out of 54 samples of game meat sold online by U.S. retailers were potentially mislabeled.
Two products labeled as bison and one labeled as yak were identified as domestic cattle. One product labeled as black bear was American beaver, and one labeled as pheasant was helmeted guinea fowl.
Both studies were published in the journal Food Control.
Overall, the researchers found that mislabeled meat was more commonly obtained from online specialty meat distributors rather than from supermarkets.
To learn more about food fraud, which includes mislabeling, check out “6 Tips to Avoid Becoming a Victim of ‘Food Fraud.'”
Do you worry about mislabeling of meat products you buy? Let us know your reaction to this news below or on our Facebook page.


Canadian Horsemeat Not Drug-Free

Canadian horsemeat not drug-free, European audit finds European Commission monitors have “serious concerns” about Canada’s ability to track health and treatment of horses.


Thoroughbred race horse Backstreet Bully finished first in this August 2008 race at Fort Erie. The race horse changed ownership after retirement and was sent to slaughter, despite frantic last-minute pleas to save his life by people who knew the horse had been given veterinary drugs over his lifetime that made him unsafe for human consumption.

Exported Canadian horsemeat intended for human consumption cannot be trusted to be free of toxic drugs, according to a recently released European audit that cites “serious concerns” about the integrity of Canada’s food safety measures.

Among the reported findings, auditors discovered that slaughterhouse tests conducted two years ago on horse carcasses poised to enter the human food chain showed residues of prohibited substances, including a commonly used veterinary medicine called “bute.” Phenylbutazone, or bute, has been linked to bone-marrow disease in humans if eaten in meat.

“It cannot be guaranteed that horses (slaughtered in Canada) have not been treated with illegal substances within the last 180 days before slaughter,” the audit states.

The report also described the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, the country’s food safety watchdog, as having “shortcomings” in its ability to accurately trace horses’ identities and complete medical histories.

All horses butchered in Canada for export as human food, including horses imported from the United States, must be accompanied by an equine identification “passport” completed by the animal’s last owner. Owners must truthfully declare on these signed affidavits that their slaughter-bound animals have not been given prohibited drugs for the previous six months and are, therefore, eligible to become human food.

A 2013 Star investigation found these passports, called Equine Information Documents, are open to fraud and error. In European countries, in contrast, horse ownership and medical histories are tracked from birth.

European auditors, who police the meat coming into their market, gathered information from Canadian slaughter facilities during a two-week inspection in May of 2014. In their report, auditors expressed doubt about the ability of Canada’s food safety regulator to always provide untainted horsemeat to European Union markets.

“There are serious concerns in relation to the reliability of the controls over both imported and domestic horses destined for export (to EU markets),” the European report states.
Auditors also found that in Canada “there are no official checks to verify the veracity of the (equine passports) or whether the horses actually match the identifications registered” on the passports.

“The information contained in several (equine passports) checked by the ... audit team appeared incomplete, unreliable or false. It can therefore not be ensured that horses slaughtered in Canada for export to the EU have not been treated with substances which are not permitted in the EU, in particular hormonal growth promotants.” Testosterone was mentioned as a prohibited growth hormone in EU meat.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency, responding to written questions from the Star, declared that horsemeat exported from Canada is safe to eat.

“Canada has a strong and robust food safety inspection system in place,” the agency said in statement.

“This includes effective ante and post mortem verification and frequent sampling and testing of meat to detect residues with CFIA inspectors and veterinarians present on a daily basis. The number of samples taken is consistent with international standards.”

The federal food safety agency also stated it “welcomes feedback from the audit and is committed to addressing opportunities for improvement identified within the report.”

Horsemeat is Canada’s top red meat export to European countries.

The audit team attached to the European Commission’s Food and Veterinary Office evaluated the sanitary measures and control systems in place for fresh meat exports (including horse, bison and cattle) from Canada to Europe.

With respect to horses, the European team visited unnamed slaughterhouses, feedlots and one border crossing (the majority of horses killed annually in Canada are imported from the United States).
The vulnerability of Canada’s Equine Information Document was also a key concern in a 2010 European audit. That report found Canada’s ability to trace prohibited drugs in food-bound horses “is inadequate” to protect consumers.

Canada’s equine document is the first step in protecting the public from drug-tainted horse meat. A previous Star investigation found the horse passport that Canada relies upon to keep toxic meat off dinner tables around the world is easily compromised. The Star obtained 10 passports in 2013; nine were incomplete or error-riddled.

The 16 carcasses with bute residues identified in the recent audit were tested in 2013 at one unnamed slaughterhouse. The auditors noted the slaughterhouse operator conducted its own investigation of the owners of the 16 horses who submitted the non-compliant equine passports.

Auditors noted that while “the CFIA puts the responsibility for follow-up of non-compliances largely on the shoulders of the slaughterhouses, the CFIA does not always fulfill its obligations for verifying and ensuring the effectiveness of the follow-up investigations and corrective actions.”


Plot Against Allowing Horse Slaughter For Meat Thickens

Plot Against Allowing Horse Slaughter For Meat Thickens - Farm Progress

Plot Against Allowing Horse Slaughter For Meat Thickens

What about this, FDA? Are you or are you not going to enforce your own regulations and permanently ban horse slaughter in the US? What are you waiting for?

New findings suggest FDA's own "animals of unknown origins" policy may prevent U.S. resumption of horse slaughter for human consumption.

Published on: Mar 11, 2014
Efforts to prevent the slaughter of American horses for food made significant progress last week. Front Range Equine Rescue, a national nonprofit working to end horse abuse and neglect, discovered that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration prohibits use of animals for meat if those animals don't have sufficient medical records.
It's not clear from the information whether this provision is from the Food Safety and Modernization Act. But FRER, along with the Humane Society of the United States, contends that FDA's policy concerning unsafe toxins and drug residues found in meats should result in a ban on the sale of American horse meat.
FRER found more than 125 FDA citations to producers of adulterated meat reported in the past two years. Citations are issued for failing to maintain complete veterinary treatment records for an animal, failing to systematically review treatment records before slaughter to assure drugs have been administered only as directed, or failing to hold an animal for the proper length of time following treatment. Any of these actions leads to prohibiting use of those animals for meat.

NO MORE HORSEBURGERS? To qualify for slaughter plant sales in the future, horses may be required to have better certified health records.
NO MORE HORSEBURGERS? To qualify for slaughter plant sales in the future, horses may be required to have better certified health records.

No or false verification of safety

Unlike other livestock raised within the agricultural system, virtually all horses sold for meat began as working, competition or sport horses, companion animals or wild horses. "Slaughterers and middlemen have virtually no knowledge about the horses' prior veterinary histories," claims Hilary Wood, president of FRER, "although falsified documents are often used to suggest they do."
"Horses are often used from show rings to trail riding to therapy programs. They're treated with many different drugs throughout their lives because horse owners don't expect they could end up as meat," adds Wood. "We are committed to preventing the slaughter of horses for human consumption to protect human health, the environment, and horses from cruelty and suffering."

Plot Against Allowing Horse Slaughter For Meat Thickens
Plot Against Allowing Horse Slaughter For Meat Thickens

In March 2012, FRER and HSUS filed a petition requesting that FDA certify all horses and horse meat from American horses as "unqualified" for human consumption. The petition lists more than 110 drugs and other substances commonly administered to horses that are or should be prohibited.
More than 100,000 American horses are sent to slaughter each year, mainly for consumption in Europe and Asia. The current federal budget stripped away USDA funding for horse slaughter operations. But Wood says it remains to be seen whether that funding will be restored come October.
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Another Important Message From John Holland - President of the Equine Welfare Alliance - on Attacks in Social Media

This was first published on the EWA Newsletter which can be seen online here.

This post will be my only comment on the unfortunate situation that only serves to demonstrate how quickly some can forget that their stated goal was to help horses - something this ugly infighting does not accomplish. To say I'm shocked and disappointed would be quite the understatement. 

For the past week, various Facebook pages have been full of wild claims and speculation regarding the resignation of an EWA board member. We have not commented on this resignation because it is our policy, like every reputable organization, to keep board matters confidential.

We have worked very hard to become a respected organization that provides accurate information in an unemotional context. This is the reason that we can now be accepted as a source at legal proceedings, in legislative hearings and by the press.

We have therefore stated only that it is against our policy to become involved in any way with public attacks on other animal welfare organizations or in supporting them against such attacks. It is our position that these attacks, justified or not, serve only to undermine the credibility of our entire movement.

We have repeatedly been asked whether the requested resignation was the result of our supporting AC4H. No, it was not, nor did it involve a single incident.

Now that I have been personally attacked for over a week, I have many wonderful examples of why this sort of Facebook vigilantism is so destructive to the image of our movement and to its cohesiveness. People have speculated wildly and recklessly about a situation of which they know absolutely nothing. They have been willing to believe that I would suddenly, and with no justification, ask for the resignation of a board member and then offered completely irrelevant material as proof.

For example, a photo of me standing with Christy Sheidy was offered as proof that I support her. A few posts later someone recognized that the picture was from a 2008 anti-slaughter conference in Washington, and was one of dozens of pictures of me and other participants standing together. So the image proved only that Christy Sheidy and I had both taken the time and effort to attend an anti-slaughter conference.

Furthermore, publicly calling people names like Crusty Sheidy or Christy Shady is so adolescent as to make me cringe. We do not need this kind of discourse at any level, against anyone, and to imagine that it somehow helps the horses is delusional.

The posting of a public notice of a tax lien was given as the reason for dismissal.  Posting public documents is acceptable and commonplace. However, I might mention that it was posted with a comment stating that it proved AC4H had not declared income from its broker program - a comment intended to invite controversy. That comment turned out not to be true and is typical of the kind of thing that makes people question the accuracy of other information being provided.  Still, it was far from the reason for this entire debacle.

Let me put it bluntly. This kind of war is moronic and of utterly no help to the horses at all. While a river of horses go over the borders, countless hours are being wasted on a McCarthyesque witch hunt to see if this person or that supports an operation that is already under investigation by authorities and all but totally defunct. People I have known and worked with for years have somehow lost all reason and joined in this blood sport without asking "What is to be gained and what could be lost?"

I do see where some people have injected interesting facts such as the point that I was one of the first people to question whether it wouldn't be better to buy horses by bidding against kill buyers rather than buying them from kill buyers and thus putting money in their pockets.

But let me suggest we think deeper. We all regard the kill buyers with disdain, but even if we bought every horse out from under them at auction we would still be stuck with the problem because it would merely enrich those doing the over-breeding and dumping the horses! We can't rescue our way out of slaughter folks.

Finally, I must point out that this former board member has decided to divulge and embellish confidential board discussions in hopes that it would embarrass EWA and add to her support. That is both unethical and illegal, and speaks to the individual's understanding of the duties of a board of directors.

Now having read this, each of you are free to go back to banging out useless flaming posts in hopes of collecting "likes" (whatever they are worth) or working with us to end the slaughter and abuse of American horses. Which will it be?

John Holland
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A Message From Equine Welfare Alliance President John Holland

 Hi Folks,

This is part three concerning the omnibus bill. Part one, as many of you have discerned, was our optimistic New Year's message hinting at good things ahead, and part two was the announcement of the defunding language in the omnibus budget and how it got there.

These developments have led to the question of how long this will stop slaughter houses from returning to the US. I will attempt to explain the answer to that question. Like most things in Washington, the answer is a bit convoluted. However, I think it is safe to say it will stop their return for at least two years and here is why.

Budgets are, as we all know, a one-year affair that begins October 1st. The process is supposed to start with the President's budget, which is broken into 12 separate budgets (such as the Agriculture Budget), which in turn go to the various appropriations committees to be amended.

These budgets are then supposed to go to the floor of their respective houses for a vote. Following their passage in the Senate and House, the resulting budgets are supposed to go to a conference committee to hammer out differences, and then back to the House and Senate for a final vote.

But if there is one consistent theme in Congress, it is that they almost never do things the way they are supposed to. According to the Congressional Research Service, Congress has passed a full budget only three times in the past 26 years! Most years they pass a CR for all or most individual budgets.

Last year, the agriculture budgets got through the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, but neither reached their respective floors for a vote. Both budgets had defunding language, as did the President's budget. The budget for other departments didn't even get that far.

A CR, or Continuing Resolution, is merely a way of keeping spending at the same level (or at some multiple of the current level) for an additional period. The duration can be from a day to as much as the remainder of the current budget year.

An omnibus budget is yet another way for Congress to shortcut its budgeting process. This fiscal year, we got a series of short CRs, followed by an omnibus budget.

Since the omnibus was based on the bipartisan budget "framework" agreement reached a month earlier, and since that agreement was for two years, we can be sure that the 2015 budget will be a one-year CR.

Now it gets kind of ironic. The late Sue Wallis, Dave Duquette and even Charlie Stenholm had speculated publicly, and no doubt prayed, that there would be a CR for 2014. That would have continued the funding for inspections from the previous 2012 and 2013 budgets.

However there is something call an "anomaly" that can be added to a CR to place a restriction on certain funds. Since nobody was sure the omnibus would pass, a CR was indeed prepared and tucked away to keep the government funded the rest of the year if the omnibus blew up.

That CR contained an anomaly that prohibited any funds from being used for horse slaughter inspections. So had they been forced to use the CR, it would have had the same outcome (defunding). We knew this well before the budget deal was struck, and actually expected that is the way things would go.

And why is this important going forward? It is important because it was none other than Secretary Vilsack who signed off on the anomaly. That explains why Victoria wanted to thank him. It also means that it will be virtually impossible for the pro-slaughter camp to accomplish a removal of the defunding language for the 2015 budget CR.

So the plants are locked out for two years and probably more. And that is the rest of the story, as Paul Harvey would have said.


"Slaughterhouse" Sue Wallis Dead

reblogged from Straight From the Horse's Heart

A Statistical Analysis of Slaughterhouse Sue
By John Holland ~ President of the Equine Welfare Alliance

“Sue is a compulsive fact creator…”

"Slaughterhouse" $ue Wallis
“Slaughterhouse” $ue Wallis

Hi, my name is John Holland, and I am a data-holic. I usually spend my day furtively downloading statistics and information; analyzing it, graphing it, correlating it and trying to glean insights into the true workings of the horse world.
But today is different. Today, I was inspired to opine by a thing of great rarity in our struggle; a well researched article. It appeared in the Saint Louis Post Dispatch titled Horse slaughterhouse plans stalled in Missouri and it convinced me we are winning this struggle, at least for the moment.
No, the article did not contain a new revelation about the outcome of a court case, or the result of a vote. It contained something even more telling: It documented Sue Wallis slipping beyond the gravitational pull of reality and into an alternate universe of anti-logic, where up is down and dark is light.
Sue begins the interview with her now familiar claim that she chose Missouri because, “If you draw a 500-mile circle from western Missouri you encapsulate 30 percent of the horse herd in the U.S.” After musing over the concept of the US horse population constituting a single “herd”, I began wondered where she got this statistic.
You see, Sue and I share different forms of compulsion. I am a compulsive fact checker while Sue is a compulsive fact creator. So I ran the numbers and the result I got was 23.6% of the US horse population being within 500 miles (as the crow flies) of western Missouri.
This means Sue’s exaggeration coefficient for this statement is 27%[i]. This modest exaggeration would prove to be her perigee with reality before she would slingshot past it and off into the abyss of deep space.
After describing the law suit that had resulted in the Cole County judge’s directive to the Department of Natural Resources to hold off on issuing Rains the discharge permit, the story returned to the interview with Sue.
Wyoming's "$laughterhou$e" $ue Walli$ ~ photo by Pam Nickoles
“The horse industry has been decimated,” Wallis said. “We have worthless horses being turned out and abandoned.”
As I read this, I again felt compelled to calibrate Wallis’ definition of decimation. The original term came from quaint custom of the Roman army by which they would execute every tenth soldier of a disgraced unit so as to improve morale. Was every tenth horse in America being abandoned?
 The only state I could find that keeps abandonment data is New Mexico. During my research, they provided me with a very detailed list of all the estray horses they had picked up since 2006. Last year they picked up exactly 124 horses.
 Given the estimated 147,181 horses in New Mexico, this means that the abandonment rate is 0.06% or one horse in every 1,186. Since decimation would be one in ten (10%), Sue’s exaggeration coefficient had suddenly rocketed from 27% to 16,666%.
Parroting the discredited 2011 GAO report, Wallis went on to say “People take care of animals that have value. It’s when they don’t that they neglect them.”
This was the conjecture used to excuse why the GAO studied horse prices instead of actually studying neglect as it had been assigned to do. It is, of course, utter nonsense. Few household pets have any monetary value, yet most people take good care of them.
It gets better. “Every breed registry is down 70 percent since 2007. Fewer colts are being born,” Wallis said.
Apparently Wallis has data I have not seen; data showing among other things that only the birth rate of colts is in decline. Is there some strange gender asymmetry going on here? Or is it possible that the Executive Director of the International Equine Business Association, the expert of CNN interviews and countless articles does not know that colts are males and the proper term would have been foals?
As for “every breed registry being off 70% since 2007”, Sue’s exaggeration coefficient is pretty substantial. According to the Jockey Club, thoroughbred foal registrations are off 34.5%, not 70%. Some breeds appear to have been almost unaffected, but the AQHA’s annual report does show about a 49% reduction in foal registrations from its peak in 2007.
"Slaughterhouse" $ue Wallis ~ Horse guts and blood are what drives this political nut-job
 “Slaughterhouse” $ue Wallis ~ Horse guts and blood
are what drives this political nut-job

The pattern with Quarter Horses is a familiar one for those of us who have been around the horse world for a few decades. Breeds come into favor, resulting in indiscriminate breeding spurred on by the greed of their breed registry. Then the bubble bursts. Just before the decline began, the then executive vice president of the AQHA, Bill Brewer, gave an impassioned speech at their annual convention urging more breeding so there would be “enough good horses in the future”.
A great breed has been degraded in the process. Quarter Horses now commonly suffer from a wide range of maladies such as GBED, HERDA, HYPP, and Navicular. The most common complaint of owners is that they “bred the feet off them.” This could explain why AQHA membership is down 18.6% since 2007. I wondered to myself, would Sue suggest killing off a bunch of their remaining members as a solution to the decline?
Sue continues, “That’s 70 percent less feed being sold, 70 percent fewer jobs, 70 percent fewer veterinarians.”
Apparently Sue believes that a short term drop in foal (excuse me colt) births means that the whole horse population suddenly drops by the same percentage. Despite Sue’s best efforts, horses do often live well into their 20s and beyond, meaning that recent foal crops would represent only a few percent of the population.
With a nearly 50% decrease in foals, the population of registered quarter horses dropped from 3,218,113 in 2007 to 2,978,776 in 2012 according to the AQHA annual reports, a decline of just 7.4%. Here Sue gets an exaggeration coefficient of 945%.
But at this point her thinking turns to what I will call anti-logic, because if it came into contact with rational thought the two would annihilate each other with a thunderous clap, probably decapitating their host. She is proclaiming that all of this devastation is because we have too few horses as a direct result of not killing enough of them! This would be laughable if 2012 had not seen more US horses slaughtered than any year since 1994!
One survival strategy of prey animals is to synchronize their birthing so as to overwhelm their predators. Sue has adopted this strategy with her spontaneously created facts. She spews so many at one time that at least a few have a good chance to get past us unchallenged.
At this point in the interview, Sue seems to sense her interviewer is not buying her nonsense. So she throws her hyperbole engine into warp drive, saying “This has wrecked communities — all because of the elitist snooty arrogance of this bunch of people telling us what’s culturally acceptable to eat.”
The community of Boggy Bottom, the neighborhood behind the Dallas Crown slaughter house, was truly devastated by the pollution, stench and crime caused by the plant. I witnessed it firsthand. But where is Sue’s example of a community devastated by a lack of slaughter? Apparently with anti-logic you automatically get an anti-logic twin to Boggy Bottom, at least in the brain of Sue Wallis.
It is impossible for me to calculate the exaggeration factor for this statement because, since there is no truth at all to be exaggerated, it would require dividing by zero. I think I now fully understand Einstein’s quote about only the universe and human stupidity being infinite.
Yet the second half of the outburst is the most interesting of all.
Sue had apparently learned that the influential Busch brothers (former owners of Budweiser and Anheuser-Busch) had thrown their considerable weight into the battle on the side of the horses. Victoria McCullough had sent them a link to our report How the GAO deceived Congress, and Victoria said she thinks the outrage at this government deceit had caused them to weigh in.
Lately there has been an avalanche of high profile support for ending horse slaughter completely. In the government sector; President Obama, Vice President Biden, and Secretary Vilsack have all come out against horse slaughter. At the state level, New Mexico’s Governor Susana Martinez, former governor Bill Richardson, Attorney General Gary King and others have spoken up for the horses. Celebrities such as the incredibly influential Robert Redford and Steven Spielberg have also taken a stand.
But most aggravating of all for Sue are the “snooty, arrogant billionaires”. This is because Sue knows that the money from big agriculture was the only advantage she had in this battle. Internationally known equestrian Victoria McCullough and her “snooty arrogant” friends, are serving to balance the scales by using their resources to multiply the impact of the tireless grass roots work of thousands of horse lovers and animal welfare organizations. This combination may well bring Slaughterhouse Sue crashing back to reality.

[i] How does a 6.4% error become an exaggeration factor of 27%?
Use this formula ((30-23.6)*100)/23.6), or ask your friendly local nerd.

"From my earliest memories, I have loved horses with a longing beyond words." ~ Robert Vavra