Is horse meat legal in America? Technically yes but their are some caveats.
People love eating all kinds of meat, and in America, we are lucky to live in a place where there are so many options available to us. There’s beef, pork, chicken, turkey, lamb, duck… the list goes on and on. But not every type of meat is commonly eaten here. In fact, some types of meat are rather unusual for American palettes — like horse.
In America, most people know that horse meat has been consumed by cultures around the world for centuries as a cheap source of protein with a lot less fat than red meat from cattle or chickens.
However, that doesn’t mean it’s widely accepted here. In fact, most Americans would probably be pretty grossed out if they knew how often horse meat is secretly being added to products without being labeled as such. So… is horse meat legal in America? Keep reading to find out!
Is Horse Meat Legal in America?
Yes however, horse meat is only legal if it’s imported from other countries that consume it, such as Mexico, Brazil, Japan, France, and Belgium.
Horse meat is illegal to be sold in retail stores, restaurants, or as part of any product sold in the U.S. They also can’t label the meat as “horse meat” — instead, they must use the term meat byproduct.
Horse meat has been “illegal” to sell in the U.S. since 2007, when Congress passed the Appropriations Bill. The bill states that the USDA cannot “provide any money to inspect horses for human consumption.” This means that the USDA cannot legally allow horse meat to be sold in the U.S. However, as long as it’s being imported from other countries, it’s technically still legal to consume horse meat in America.
Where Does Horse Meat Come From?
Horses are herbivores, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be slaughtered and turned into meat. In fact, the meat from different types of equines is commonly eaten around the world, most notably in France, Mexico, Switzerland, Belgium, and Argentina. In the U.S., horse meat has been consumed as early as the late 19th century, as a source of cheap protein for poorer Americans.
Horse meat is often processed into ground meat or sausage, as opposed to being sold as steaks like beef or pork. In countries where it’s more commonly eaten, the majority of horse meat comes from thoroughbred or standardbred racehorses that are no longer fit for racing. While racehorses are often slaughtered in a humane way and turned into meat, thoroughbreds that are retired from the racetrack are often slaughtered in extremely inhumane ways.
Why is Horse Meat Not Commonly Eaten in America?
Americans have been eating horse meat since the late 19th century, but modern opinions about it have been largely negative since the 1950s. This is largely due to the rise of the automobile industry, which led to the increased popularity of eating beef, as opposed to horse meat.
During this time, horse racing was also becoming increasingly popular, which meant that many retired racehorses were being put down at the end of their lives. Horse meat was being harvested from these “spent” thoroughbreds that were no longer fit for racing, and people were using the term “sour” to describe it.
is Horse Meat Being Hidden in American Food?
Like we mentioned earlier, people who are grossed out by the thought of eating horse meat will even more revolted if they know they’ve been eating it without knowing it. Horse meat is often added to things like hot dogs, sausages, and ground beef, while being disguised as things like “veal” or “venison” on the label.
The reason for this is that horse meat is significantly cheaper to produce than other types of meat. There have been multiple incidents of this type of food fraud scandal happening both in America and worldwide.
How to Know If You’re Eating Horse Meat
Again, horse meat is only allowed to be imported into the U.S. from other countries, so if you’re eating a product that’s been made in America, there’s no way you’re accidentally eating horse meat. You’d have to be eating a product that’s been deliberately added with it.
If you’re eating a hot dog or a sausage, you can easily determine if it’s been made with horse meat by checking the ingredients list. If you see “meat byproduct” on the ingredients list, it’s likely to be horse meat. If you’re eating ground beef, you can get a DNA test to determine if it contains any horse meat or not. You can ship a sample of your beef to a lab, and they’ll send you a report telling you if it’s 100% beef or if it contains any other type of meat.