Horse Slaughter Is Cruel, and 'Bute' in the Meat Kills Humans

One more good reason to stop eating horse meat: Anti-inflammatory phenylbutazone can kill you.

By + More

By Bonnie Erbe, Thomas Jefferson Street blog

If you can't persuade them for the right reasons, then scare them with the facts.

A new paper in the journal Food & Chemical Toxicology shows how dangerous American horse meat is for human consumption.

Americans should stop selling horses for slaughter abroad because we love our horses and do not treat them as livestock. That's the right reason to stop this incredibly cruel practice. Still, millions of greedy horse owners and breeders send horses off to slaughter because it's more remunerative than not breeding at all or even having them euthanized.

But according to this new paper, humans who consume horse meat (most often overseas and especially in France, Italy, Japan and Belgium) are at risk for being poisoned by Phenylbutazone or "bute." It's a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug originally developed for treating severe cases of arthritis, but it was later found to...

"cause serious and lethal idiosyncratic adverse effects in humans. Sixty-seven million pounds of horsemeat derived from American horses were sent abroad for human consumption last year. Horses are not raised as food animals in the United States and, mechanisms to ensure the removal of horses treated with banned substances from the food chain are inadequate at best."

Bute is still routinely used not just at the thoroughbred racetrack, which is what the authors of this paper studied, but also by horse owners nationwide to mitigate pain for all sorts of horse injuries. Horses do not have the same lethal reaction to bute that humans can display, although long-term use of bute for horses can create ulcers and other organ damage.

The paper's authors call it a "significant health hazard" for people to consume horse meat. I hope this information is highly promulgated throughout horse-consuming societies in Europe and Asia.