Scandal Stokes Curiosity: Is There Horsemeat In Imported US Beef Products?

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horse-meat1Written By:  Jaime Cowan

Package Photos By:  Jaime Cowan

In June of 2012, I moved from a small town to Topeka, Kansas.  That meant I had to find new, local places to do my regular shopping.   I have not eaten meat in almost a year.  But I live with my mother and she does eat meat, and for the time being, so do my daughters.  But during one of the first visits to the store my mother frequents, I noticed something in the meat cooler that gave me serious cause for concern.

Sent after a pound of hamburger, I found myself shuffling through the packages looking for one that did not read Canada/Mexico on its labeling.  Of course the fear of meat imported from Canada and/or Mexico stems from the fear (and paranoia, according to others) that maybe those countries could in some way or another, let the tainted meat of horses they inhumanely slaughter, seep into the meat they prepare and market for export.  In my opinion, if a company is killing and selling animals they know have a reputation for containing banned substances, and they sell these products without concern for the potential illnesses their product could cause their consumers, then who can guarantee their honesty in any other regard? The following photos are taken from a Dillon’s store clearly showing the labels for the country of “origin.”   “The label shall list all countries contained therein or that may be reasonably contained therein in any order.”

meat package1

Country of Origin is “USA/Canada/Mexico”

It’s possible that this package actually contains beef from all three countries, and it might also contain beef from just two countries; perhaps Mexico and Canada. It’s also possible that this package actually contains beef sourced only from Mexico but was produced in a US plant that typically also sources raw materials from Canada and the US for other products. Unfortunately, the consumer still won’t know the country of origin from such a label. Ground beef may be sourced from different countries to be processed in one US plant and the label need only reflect the countries from which the company typically sourced its raw materials for products over the past few months.”

I also found a list of Mexican plants approved to export meat to the United States.  Of course,  Mexico also slaughters horses and I wonder what guarantees are made to ensure we receive only beef?  And if there are any assurances made,  are they worth more than the paper they’re printed on?

Here is an explanation of the labeling process and the requirements that are supposed to be met in order for import/export.  Of course, as we all are seeing unfold in the UK, these requirements can exist, but there is really no guarantee they are being completely complied with unless every piece of meat is inspected.

meat package 2 - Copy

Country of Origin is “USA/Canada/Mexico”

When visiting the website of Kroger/Dillon’s we see that there are many links to importation and other info containing product origination that are dead or inactive. This made me even more suspicious.  I was unable to find any information with regards to the origin of their meat products other than the most generic information.  Plenty of other information is provided though.  I believe the origin of products that we eat is very important and should be available for consumers to have access to, especially with the meat scandal actively taking place overseas.

I agree with  B.J. Rickard. During his regular live internet broadcast called “Stall13” via his website The World of Horses, he questioned why more people, including the “hot rod information sources” aka big news companies here in the United States, are not questioning the contents of the meat sold on the shelves of grocery stores nationwide.  We are obviously accepting meats imported from countries that slaughter horses,  so why isn’t the imported meat here being audited or DNA tested?   Maybe it is known that if meat is inspected and found to have a trace of any animal other then what is listed, the reputation and reliability of the U.S. meat inspection and food safety would be in shambles.  “It is only about money, and nothing else.”

meat package 4

Another Product of Unknown Origin

Now that the dangers of horse meat are being discussed in mainstream news articles and brought to everyone’s attention, why is it even a consideration to legalize horse slaughter in the State of Oklahoma (For Export Only)?  What kind of government would allow the slaughter, sale and export of a product (animal, pet) that is so dangerous, unregulated and inhumane that consumption of it is not even allowed in its own state?  It just further confirms the belief that the government officials suggesting such ideas are nothing other than selfish, irresponsible and dishonest.  In my opinion they are recklessly participating in an act of agro-terrorism by slaughtering companion animals for food.

All of my horses have been given a medication from this list in the last 3 months. They are also given regular dewormers.  Any horse that has been given a medication or product from this list is automatically banned from entering the food chain.  In October of 2010 and March of 2011, my horse Rhapsody was given Banamine as well as being on a regular deworming schedule.  She had multiple drugs in her system, but was illegally and fraudulently sold to a horse auction owner, who in turn sold her to a kill buyer to be shipped to Mexico.  Documents were forged and falsified, stating that she had no banned substances in her body.   If you are unsure of your stance on horse slaughter, please take the time to read and educate yourself

meat package 3I am not so concerned for myself, but for the lives of my children, my horses and the rest of the world that places trust in the food system. It takes a special type of idiot to condone the preparation of a food source that they personally do not dare eat.   I have sent my faxes and made my phone calls and will continue to do so.

We’ve presented a loud and unified voice in other states,  and now we must stop the process taking place in Oklahoma, where slaughter would be legalized for horses both wild and domestic.  Please read the following sources of information and take action now!  Oppose SB375 and HB1999. Vote NO to Legalizing Horse Slaughter and Horse Meat Consumption in Oklahoma and Vote NO on the Export of Horse Meat to Outside Entities including other U.S. States or Foreign Countries.

Wild Horse Protection on Facebook

Oppose Horse Slaughter In Oklahoma on Facebook

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About heatherclemenceau

Hopefully as I've grown older I've also grown wiser, but one thing I've definitely become cognizant of is the difference between making a living and making a life. Frequently outraged by some of life's cruelties, and respect diversity. But.....I don't suffer fools gladly, and occasionally, this does get me into some trouble! I have the distinction of being the world's worst golfer - no wait, I do believe that there is a gypsy in Moldavia who is a worse golfer than I. Nor am I much of a dancer - you won't see a booty-shakin' flygirl routine from me! I'm also not the kind of cook who can whip up a five-course meal on a radiator either! And I've never figured out how to get an orchid to bloom a second time. I love to discuss literature, science, philosophy, and sci-fi , or even why Seinfeld is funny on so many levels. Words move me. I'm very soft-hearted about most things, especially animals, but I have a stoicism about me that is sometimes interpreted incorrectly. I do have a definite edge and an often "retro-adolescent" sense of humour at times. I'm a big advocate of distributed computing projects to advance science. Check out http://boinc.berkeley.edu/ if you want to find out more. I'm an eclectic (but not crazy) vegetarian, and as such, it's a personal practice of mine to seduce innocent meat-eaters into cruising the (salad) bars at every opportunity. You would be powerless to resist. I was recently surprised to find that a computer algorithm concluded that I write like Dan Brown, which is funny because I didn't think Dan Brown could actually write. Check out your own style - http://iwl.me/ Oh, and I love impractical shoes and funky hats.

8 responses »

  1. I haven’t eaten meat in three years and became Vegan last November before the horsemeat scandal news stories broke. I suggest that if you must shop for ground beef for your mom and daughters, that you buy a roast or steak and ask the butcher to grind it for you…this way you will know you are eating beef. If you doubt the meat in the supermarket where you shop, find a local butcher shop that sells organic meats, select a cut of beef and have that ground up to your liking.

    We have to stop kidding ourselves that the governments are protecting our food pipelines – the FDA does not have enough inspectors to inspect all the animals that are butchered for their meat and even fewer inspectors to inspect the imported food that comes to the USA.

  2. Heather, your article is a wake up call. I live in Canada, and it has unequively been confirmed that the EID system is open to fraud on a massive scale. Right from the auctions,killbuyers and slaughter house operators/ owners the system is corrupt. To make things worse our Canadian Food Inspection Agency claims that ALL Horse meat exported is free of harmfull substances to humans, when it is unequively confirmed they test 0.42% of this meat exported, that humans consume. What person with any sense of these circumstances, along with the failure of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency at the Maple Leaf Foods Plant where 20 people died from consuming their meat, and most recently the largest recall of meat in Canadian history at a plant in Alberta that seen numbers of people made ill and potential for death could possibly trust such a flawed system, that all starts with the factory farming food, system that is steadfastly supported by Govt. More shockingly in Canada our Govt. is steadily moving in the direction, where the Corporate Food Industry is going to be permitted to self regulate themselfs. PEOPLE, FOR YOUR OWN SAFETY BECOME VEGAN NOW, NOT TOMORROW.

    • Dennis, you are right on all counts. How long has Slaughterhouse Sue told us that “cheval” is so sought-after in the EU, a culinary delight etc. etc. Instead, what we are seeing here is that few wan t to actually buy and consume horsemeat, and the only way they can dispose of it is to conceal it fraudulently.

  3. It is entirely possible for horse meat to be in hamburger from Canada, In November 2011 the CFIA quietly changed the regulations so that horse carcasses no longer had to be kept separate from other meat! If you buy meat from commercial store fronts you are taking a risk! Imagine hamburger from THREE different countries!

    • Theresa, I totally believe that we would find horsemeat in other meat products, particularly in Quebec. Our government is unlikely to announce any DNA testing, since they don’t want to uncover a problem that they could otherwise avoid by doing nothing.

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