Social Question

SamandMax's avatar

Horse is the new Cow. Coming to America soon. Or is it already there?

Asked by SamandMax (1713points) February 9th, 2013

In light of the latest fiasco regarding the food industry in the UK and France where products supposedly containing beef actually contained horsemeat… it likely the same issue might exist or already exists in the States?

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44 Answers

Tropical_Willie's avatar

I’ve eaten it several times always marked as “Horse meat”.

deni's avatar

I’m sure it already happens. I would be shocked if it didn’t. That is why folks shouldn’t eat TV dinners and other sources of questionable meat to begin with.

PhiNotPi's avatar

My question is where do companies even get horsemeat in the first place?

Coloma's avatar

There is a huge slaughter/auction industry for horses. Many are shipped to mexico and rescue groups are trying to outlaw Mexican horse slaughtering. Look up anything about american horse slaughter and you will find copious amounts of material.
Animals include backyard horses, Premarin horses, ex racers, pacers, trotters, wild mustangs, abandoned animals that are sold at auction to killer horses traders.

Horse auctions and traders are abundant and it is a huge industry of cruelty.

marinelife's avatar

I don’t think it will become big here. There is too much love for horses as companion animals.

bookish1's avatar

Don’t trust meat from agrobusiness, period.
Even authentic 100% beef and pork and chicken produced by industrial ventures is full of artificial hormones and antibiotics and God knows what else already.
The whole industry is despicable. We have just been programmed to believe that it is OK to treat cows and pigs and chickens that way but somehow it is abhorrent to do so to horses.

wundayatta's avatar

What should be done with the millions of animals no one wants? Oh, I know. We could become like India only instead of sacred cows we could have sacred horses, and people could bring hay to feel the horses and pick up horse flops and bake sacred marshmallows over them.

elbanditoroso's avatar

I thought Taco Bell had been doing that for years.

I would hope that the USDA and the FDA inspects our food factories well enough for this sort of thing not to happen, but one never knows.

But here’s what bothers me about the whole scandal in Europe. The ‘problem’ is tradition, that people don’t eat horses, they ride them. Horses are said to have personalities, and little teenage girls love horses (as did Catherine the Great!). So these cute animals are traditionally, for some reason, considered incapable of being used for food.

BUT -they have the same general types of large body parts as do cows, and (if horses were bred for food, as opposed to transport, as it is today) they could be just as large a meat source as pork or beef. In fact, many countries in Asia have already adopted horsemeat as a common source of protein.

So except for the ‘tradition’, what’s wrong with horse meat?

ucme's avatar

“Tea & sea-biscuits anyone?”

Coloma's avatar

@wundayatta Many of the horses going to slaughter auctions are stolen.
When California banned horse slaughter a few years ago there was a 34% decrease on stolen horses within the state. What we should do with unwanted animals is provide them with sanctuary or a humane death. Horses are not raised for meat in the U.S. they have a noble history as servants to humans and companion animals and this is why most people oppose horse slaughter for meat.

wundayatta's avatar

@Coloma SO long as you pay for it (and you could be paying for it now, if you wanted). I don’t want the public to pay for the retirement of unwanted horses.

elbanditoroso's avatar

@Coloma -wrote “they have a noble history…”

What greater sign of the respect that we have for these noble animals than to internalize them my digestion? That’s a sign of the value we put on them—that we wish to take them into our psyche and be one with then horse.

I think it shows FAR less respect to shoot a horse after a race and bury it, or to send a horse to the renderer for use in making glue. What greater honor can we show to the horse than enjoying its company even after it is dead?

wundayatta's avatar

@elbanditoroso That goes against the cultural norms of American society, as I’m sure you know. You may have logic on your side, but logic means nothing when it comes to the way girls feel about their horses. Or any other animal. Or dead people, for that matter. Cannibalism is considered desecration of the corpse. So even though the dead person or animal won’t care; social conventions says that eating a dead animal is not a sign of affection or honor. It’s a sign of disrespect. Social convention is wrong, but there’s not much that can be done to gainsay it.

filmfann's avatar

We already have Surf and Turf.
Imagine a Horse and Dog recipe. Hoof and Woof.
No one will want to eat horse. They can have buffalo now, and no one eats it.

rooeytoo's avatar

I am sure it is already everywhere disguised as other products. I was in the butcher shop yesterday. I looked at the rump steaks for $20 a kilo and then prime steak mince is only $10 a kilo, made me wonder what kind of steak it was that was only half the cost of the rump???

Another interesting story that makes me think this is that I knew a vet who lost his license to practice because he was falsifying the bloodlines of foals on their registration papers. He was the vet in residence for a large race horse breeding farm. He therefore lost that job as well, but the USDA hired him immediately to be an inspector. Now he had already proved he could be bought but they made him an inspector????

I am almost with @Coloma – we don’t have to have horse sanctuaries, just as I don’t believe no kill dog and cat shelters. I think if animals cannot be rehomed, they should be mercifully killed. Then what is done with their remains is not important, if someone wants to eat any of them so be it. I think all animals, orphaned or raised for food deserve a merciful death. And of course the livestock deserves a merciful life and if you don’t believe in humane animal practices then you are a damned fool, because the factory farmed food is killing those who eat it, slowly but surely.

Nuts's avatar

@elbanditoroso The issue is not really a tradition, though for some people might be.

The main issue is that this horse meat was illegal and the horses were not bred according to the rules. The animals could be possibly sick and they might have been using some drugs like anti-inflammatory or pain relievers, that are harmful to people if horse like this is eaten.

cazzie's avatar

LOL…. Hoof and Woof! @filmfann

I can go to a large grocery store chain here in Norway and buy horsemeat if I want it. It is also in a particular type of salami meat here and it is labeled on the back as containing horse. People ate horse during and after the war here. I have accidently eaten the salami. I had to ask about it when it didn’t taste right to me. There is also a brand of ground ‘hamburger’ here that doesn’t taste right to me and I could almost swear it has something in it other than beef, butit isn’t labelled as containing any horse. I simply do not like the taste.

Like any livestock, they deserve humane treatment. I really like Temple Grandin’s view on how animals are managed. Forcing slaughterhouses to change their systems came from the large buyers, like McDonalds and Wendy’s. The animals don’t know they are going to be killed, but stupid handling, regardless where they are or what they are doing, makes them suffer and panic.

I don’t think horses will ever be raised for their meat, but they do and can provide it. As long as it is done ethically, legally and humanely, I can’t see any reason to ban horse meat. Obviously, correct labelling is essential on any food. Trying to sneak horse meat into products assumed to be beef is very very wrong.

Here is an interesting article featuring what Dr. Grandin has to say on the horse meat industry.
Making it illegal in the US has been a boon for the horrible Mexican horse slaughterhouses.

Coloma's avatar

@wundayatta Girls are stereotyped as horse lovers but let me assure you there are an equal amount of men that are horse lovers, owners, trainers, and competitors in equine events.
I said humane death or sanctuary. My area is a huge horse area with many animals kept for pleasure and show. The old saying of being “put out to pasture” stands true for many horse lovers and owners. Why shouldn’t an animal that has devoted its life to the service of humans not enjoy a retirement as we do?
Police horses and many privately owned animals do and there is nothing wrong with this.

If one can afford to keep a retired horse and allow it to live out its days in horse happiness what’s wrong with that?
I agree that horse meat is as viable as any other meat but these animals are intelligent and domesticated and deserve a much better end than being shipped to auction.

wundayatta's avatar

I have no problem with horses being retired for people who can afford to care for them. But I’m sure there are far more horses around than people can afford to care for privately. I don’t want to be forced to pay for their care through a publicly financed program.

Are you saying the animals are not humanely killed in a slaughterhouse? Surely that is against the law?

Coloma's avatar

@wundayatta The auctioning and transporting of horses to slaughter is often extremely abusive. Going days without food or water packed into trailers for 72 hours at a time or longer. Crammed into slaughter yard holding pens with many other animals resulting in stress, terror and injury. The bolt gun that stuns them or penetrates their brain before they have their throats cut and are bled out is the least of it.
Humanely killed, not if you consider the days, weeks and months many spend in terrifying and overcrowded conditions.

The methodology of the actual killing is not the issue, it is everything they must endure up until the bitter end.

wundayatta's avatar

@Coloma Is that all legal?

cazzie's avatar

Yes, @Coloma, in a perfect world, I suppose we would all be vegan and hug more. Have you read or seen anything by Dr. Grandin? What you say “The methodology of the actual killing is not the issue, it is everything they must endure up until the bitter end.” is exactly her point. Keeping animals calm by knowing their behaviour and respecting it is what she is all about. ‘Nature is brutal, but we’re human and we don’t have to be.’ (I love that quote.)
The method of killing in some Mexican slaughterhouses is horrible, she said. They are stabbed through the back of the neck and are paralized before they actually die. Brutal, terrible stuff. By not offering a more humane and regulated system in the US for transport, handling and putting down, they are doomed to be brutally shipped off to Mexico.

Coloma's avatar

@wundayatta It is what it is, and it happens everyday. There are regulations for transporting livestock but that doesn’t mean they are enforced like many things.
Do some research.

@cazzie Of course, in a perfect world, I agree with Grandins quote 100%.
The Mexican slaughter houses are a night-mare of cruelty and horror.
Anytime an individual pushes for humane treatment of anything is a sign of an evolved consciousness. One does not have to be a vegan to support humane treatment of all animals. We treat murderers & rapists and child molesters better than we do innocent creatures whose fate we determine by our own hand.

wundayatta's avatar

@Coloma You mistake why I am asking these questions. I don’t actually care about the animals. I have no evolved consciousness. I don’t think animals are the same as humans. I care about humans, but not other animals.

SO I would never pay to retire a horse out of my own pocket. Although, I have no problem with you taking care of horses. I don’t care if horses have bad conditions on their way to slaughter. But I don’t mind if you want to pay to take care of them in some standard you think is proper and of elevated consciousness.

So I won’t be doing any research. I’m just trying to point out that if you care about it, it’s up to you to pay for it, but there is no universal or godly mandate that animals should be cared for in any particular way. I am happy if you take care of the animals, but it is not a priority for me. For me, humans are the priority. Animals are important only insofar as they help humans. For me, that is an evolved consciousness. People who are all about animals—they’re just different, not evolved. Live and let live, but don’t expect me to share your concerns unless you can show me how those concerns are better for humans.

rooeytoo's avatar

@wundayatta – there is nothing humane and it is pretty much all legal the way animals are factory farmed and killed, all over the world, not just in one country. And I know you say you don’t care because you are a human person, not an animal person, but the way animals are raised is not good for your health when you ingest it. It is one reason proposed for the advent of superbugs that antibiotics can’t touch. Factory farmed animals are pumped full of them because disease would run rampant in those hideous crowded conditions if they were not. Unless you are eating free range, grass fed (and even that is no guarantee because of what is used to grow the grass) you are poisoning yourself as well as supporting the inhumane treatment of animals.

Coloma's avatar

@wundayatta Compassion for all living things expands mans altruism and builds compassionate nature.
Every single living thing is one with each other. The same basic building blocks of life just arranged a little differently. You champion compassion for mentally ill people who do terrible harmful things to others but not for innocent creatures whose twists and turns of fate are bound by human hands?

To alleviate suffering in any form is a sign of an evolved being that understands the interconnectedness of everything.

wundayatta's avatar

@rooeytoo The overuse of antibiotics in animal husbandry is a problem. We’ve had discussions here before that the chemicals in an animals body when it is killed affect how it tastes. That could be plausible, but until I see more evidence about that, I’m not changing anything. The place where we buy meet does sell organic, grassfed meat, but the grassfed is not as tasty as the grain fed meat. So my taste tells me the other stuff is better. All of it is supposed to be without antibiotics.

@Coloma you make a lot of assumptions and raise a lot of issues. I can’t respond to them all, and they probably aren’t appropriate for this question, anyway. But I think our basic disagreement is about whether animals should be treated like humans. I don’t think so. It matters not that they use the same building blocks of life. What matters to me is whether they can communicate sophisticated thoughts.

Mentally ill people can communicate sophisticated thoughts and ideas. Cows and horses can’t. This standard of whether a creature can do terrible harmful things to others doesn’t make a difference to me. Horses and cows can definitely kill people fairly easily. So they don’t distinguish themselves as moral actors. I don’t think animals can act morally in a sophisticated way. If they have any morals at all, they are very rudimentary.

So I don’t care about animals except insofar as they help humans. I don’t think that we owe them any special treatment. I don’t think they are moral actors. I don’t think they can communicate. I don’t think they are capable of sophisticated thought. So I don’t have a problem using them in any way humans see fit.

The only argument I can think of for treating animals kindly is that it teaches us to treat humans kindly. I would buy that argument. However I would say that just means we should treat them kindly as we use them how we want to. Kind killing, is what it comes down to. But that’s for the people who work with them. They are the ones who will suffer, psychologically, by treating animals unkindly.

delilah75's avatar

We are mainly shipping horsemeat over seas to people who are unaware they are eating horsemeat in UK and France.. The Humane Society International is calling on European Union officials to ban the sale of horsemeat coming from North America and to protect the health of other humans. The inspection of horse meat is not as good as the inspection of cows and chickens leaving people to get sick. Personally I would not eat horse if I could help it. Yes the issue could very well be happening here in the USA, the inspectors can’t catch everything that is happening and I am sure there are black market facilities, factories importing from Mexico.

longgone's avatar

Do you not believe animals are capable of suffering, or does it simply not bother you if they do? If the latter is true, how do you feel about humans suffering? I’m not trying to imply you’re unfeeling, it just doesn’t make sense to me that a suffering human is a problem while all animals aren’t. You seem to believe only beings capable of communicating and acting morally deserve to be treated well. What about the handicapped, who are often unable to express themselves? What about babies? What about people suffering from dementia?
Even if we agreed that animals are completely set apart from humans, have you considered your arguments for not treating animals kindly are similar to the ones used by people trying to justify the suppression of minorities? Slavery, for example, was considered to be the “humane” way of keeping indigenous people (“inferior beings”) busy for just these reasons.
I would include some links to illustrate my point, but you said you wouldn’t be doing any research.

Coloma's avatar

@longgone Excellent points, I was going to respond in a similar fashion but you did it for me.
Straight from the horses mouth, if they could talk.
Not caring about the suffering of non-human creatures makes one a less evolved person IMO.

wundayatta's avatar

@Coloma Caring about non-humans more than or even equally with humans makes someone a less evolved person, IMO. In fact, it verges on the inhumane. Can we please stop these value judgments about being evolved or not? It doesn’t help the conversation. It just makes people respect each other less, and that is not helpful, either. I haven’t insulted you about your values, so far, but believe me, I could.

@longgone Excellent points, all.

I believe animals can suffer, and I don’t want them to suffer nor do I like to see them suffer. But I do not think animal suffering is on a par with human suffering. My concern is human suffering, and I think that it is fine for humans to use the resources of the world to alleviate our own suffering and to support our lives. Animals can be used for our purposes with no guilt, I think.

You say it doesn’t make sense to you that animal suffering would not be a problem when human suffer is. Maybe you could say more about that. It seems to me that you have to make animals equal to humans in some way for their suffering to matter equally. How do you do that? What is the basis for equality of animals?

I propose ability to communicate as a standard for the value of an entity. I say entity because I am thinking about potential alien intelligences, not just humans.

You raise the issue of the handicapped, babies, and those with dementia. The difference between these groups of people is that either they have the potential for communication ability or they have exhibited communication abilities in the past (and, if we develop appropriate medicine, could again have communication abilities). Animals don’t have potential and never have exhibited any talent for sophisticated communication abilities that we can understand.

I think that we could make an except for a few Chimpanzees, and possibly some whales. But so far, the ability is held in a few individuals and at least with whales, we don’t understand it yet, so it’s not clear if it is communication. I would be happy to treat these animals with more respect pending a determination on communication ability. Not so cows and horses.

Slavery may have been justified because certain humans seemed like animals, but that was a mistake in judgment. It is not a mistake in judgment to say that the next 100 or so generations of cows and horses will not be able to communicate with us in any sophisticated way. They don’t show easily understood signs that they can think the way we can. They don’t appear to plan. They don’t show strong indications that they can understand meaning. They don’t have bicameral minds. They aren’t exhibiting signs of consciousness that are easily understood.

Humans are very different. Obviously different. So much so that anyone who doesn’t see that is off the charts in their perception. This is not bad or good. It’s just quite different. I suspect that animal people know this. They often live far away from people in the company of mostly animals. They don’t like people. Don’t trust them. They usually feel animals are more trustworthy and more human to them.

I don’t have a problem with animal people, but I don’t think they are better than the rest of us. I don’t think they are right or wrong. I just think they have different experiences. I also think they have an antagonism towards humans that colors their judgment. Scratch an animal person, and I believe you will often find someone who has been hurt pretty badly by humans. If true, this would help explain their predilection for animals.

rooeytoo's avatar

You sure sound like you have a problem with people who realize animals are sentient creatures and treat them appropriately. Scratch a non animal person and you will find someone who seems to think they are superior to not only animals, but those who love animals. I can’t give a reason as to what might cause this, but it is a sad way to be.

wundayatta's avatar

It all hinges on what you mean by “sentient.” But no, I don’t consider animals to be thinking creatures, and I don’t know what people who think they think are seeing when they think this. Then again, what matters to me is communication. That’s my measure of sentience. It can’t just be body language. It has to show an ability to manipulate symbols.

rooeytoo's avatar

Once again I must assume you just haven’t spent that much time around animals. They do communicate. I am sure you would agree that babies communicate their needs without speech, so do animals. But really I don’t feel the need to change your mind. I just don’t like that you consider me strange because I do communicate with animals.

wundayatta's avatar

I don’t think you strange because you communicate with animals. I think it strange when someone thinks that animals are equal to humans.

Your communication, I sincerely doubt, is of a kind that includes symbol manipulation. Humans, as far as I know, are the only creatures that can manipulate symbols. Your communication is probably body language and voice, and it mostly goes one way in terms of power balance and who gets to run things. It isn’t equal, and I doubt if you would consider having an equal relationship. That would be laughable. Animals don’t get to have a say because they can’t actually have a say.

longgone's avatar

@wundayatta : First of all, I’m glad to hear you don’t enjoy animals suffering, because that would have been impossible for me to understand.
As to slaves being considered inferior beings: Of course that was a mistake in judgment. But that’s what I’m worried about when it comes to animals. Just a few decades ago, it was still widely proclaimed that animals were incapable of feeling pain. Before that, privileged white folk believed Africans were incapable of emotions – and they, too, did actually __believe__ that. It’s dangerous to put ourselves on pedestals.
The ability to communicate seems important to me, too. As you only mention chimpanzees and whales, I suspect you haven’t heard of Alex, a grey parrot owned by Professor Irene Pepperberg. He was able to distinguish between shapes and colours – when asked, for example, “How many green blocks?”, he would answer correctly even if presented with both green and red blocks at the same time. He understood the concept of “zero”, “bigger than” and “smaller than”, as well as “different from” and “the same”.
For instance, if he was shown a tray of three green blocks and two green balls, he would state that “colour” was the same while “shape” was different.
Alex lived with two other (younger) birds and started teaching them after a while. On one occasion, he asked a parrot named Griffin, “How many?” after clicking his beak four times. “Two.” Griffin replied, and Alex answered, “Wrong. Bad boy.”
He actively improved his vocabulary: At an early stage, Alex had only been presented with primary colours. When he looked at himself in a mirror, he asked, “What colour?”, and, being grey, received “grey” as an answer. He was able to point out grey objects afterwards. When Irene got frustrated, he tried to placate her by saying “I’m sorry” and “I love you.”
Alex even made up a word: Not knowing the term for “apple”, he called apples “banerry”, deviating from the two fruits he __did__ know at that time – banana and cherry.
I would argue that this is more than body language. And I don’t agree that the evicence of communication found in individuals can be discarded as being coincidental. If one parrot or bonobo is able to communicate as soon as humans take the time to find out, there is no reason to believe others wouldn’t be. It is easier to believe that animals are basically just existing, but that doesn’t necessarily make it true.
Actually, the only argument I have ever heard that completely shut me up on this topic was made by a very religious person: The bible states that humans are to “have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” (Genesis 1, Verse 28)
That’s the simple answer.

Coloma's avatar

Oh for cryin’ out loud, @wundayatta really? Sorry dude but it is a fact that the more evolved a human becomes the more they do not create demarcation lines between species.
While I was out delivering flowers today in my magnificent rural mountain community I was especially aware of all the horses I passed, living great lives on beautiful ranches and country homesteads and it made my heart ache thinking of all the not so fortunate animals.
My old horse was worth his weight in humans any day of the week.

Bah…I gotta bow out before I allow my pissy side to really cut loose.

wundayatta's avatar

@Coloma You are getting pissy, aren’t you? Not helping your cause with me, anyway. You appear not to be able to come up with reasons for what you think. It’s purely emotional. That won’t be convincing. I think your position is less evolved because you can’t articulate it. You don’t have an argument.

You don’t like people. You do like animals. I think that’s the extent of it for you. Please prove me wrong. But I don’t think you’ve even been trying. At least, I hope you haven’t been.

@longgone I think your example of the parrot is a good one. I would definitely say that’s signs of an ability to manipulate symbols, and I would call that intelligence. I would have problems killing such a parrot to eat it.

On the other hand, it is still like a child in the sense that I would worry if it could care for itself in the wild. Can it exist in an equal relationship with us? Would it choose to stay in its cage if let out? Would it come back? Or would it take off for the jungle or the wilds and revert to being like parrots before interacting with humans? Are we talking “Flowers for Algernon” here?

longgone's avatar

@wundayatta: You say you’d worry if animals which have learned to communicate with us could survive in the wild. I doubt it, since in most cases, they will have been bred in captivity.
As to whether animals which have lived with humans will try to ‘take off for the jungle’ – why should they? This would only make sense if they were unable to feel a sense of belonging.
You don’t believe that, do you?! Would you argue a dog bounding up to its owner when he returns from a trip doesn’t feel happy? Deying animals can feel emotions as basic as anger, happiness or love is utterly illogical. The hormones which make us feel the way we do exist in pretty much all creatures, and what’s more: We use the most basic parts of our brains for interpreting emotion. The limbic system is nothing special, its evolution can be traced back perfectly and all mammals have one. I doubt it just sits in their skulls taking up space.

wundayatta's avatar

It’s not emotions that are of concern for me. I believe animals feel. What matters is communication and sophistication of communication. Communication is as I defined it above: manipulation of symbols to communicate ideas of sufficient complexity.

longgone's avatar

Well, then you’ve answered your own question. Animals feel, and you’ve agreed Alex is an example of intelligence according to your definition…and for me, that’s what makes animals equal to humans. :]

Coloma's avatar

@wundayatta Please don’t put words in my mouth or make assumptions based on your distorted ideas of who I am and what I like.
I LOVE people and I love animals, but people only, IF they are actually awake enough to ponder things larger than their mundane daily lives.
I don’t need to pose an argument, only share one of many truths, which is, the more evolved and awakened one becomes the more they will recognize there is no separation.
ALL LIFE is interconnected and to not care for creatures that are seen as “less than” is to ignore the fundamental truth that we all evolved from the same source of life and therefore ALL LIFE should be revered and not exploited.


Your human organism is not any more or less important than any other organism on the planet. You are just another life form that has fallen for the myth that man is a superior species. I do not agree.
That is all.

wundayatta's avatar

Not superior. I agree. But concerned primarily with it’s own survival, and animals are a concern only insofar as they help humans. They are different species, though, and it is their job to watch out for themselves as best they can. That’s not a job for humans, precisely because we are not superior.

SamandMax's avatar

This question was moved from General to Social by request. A lot of good answers here, but most of it didn’t really touch on the question I asked initially in the General section.
So now I will go through all of these answers and thank everyone who posted an opinion or an answer to the actual question.

Thanks for being such wonderful sports!

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