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Drugs Injected at the Racetrack Put Europe Off U.S. Horse Meat
PARIS - 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.
"We don't want them," he said. "It's too risky."
The action is just the latest indication of the troubled state of American racing and its problems with the doping of horses. Some prominent trainers have been disciplined for using legal and illegal drugs, and horses loaded with painkillers have been breaking down in arresting numbers. Congress has called for reform, and state regulators have begun imposing stricter rules.
But for pure emotional effect, the alarm raised in the international horse-meat marketplace packs a distinctive punch.