Horse Meat in Demand in Mexico Since Mad Cow Scare
Horse meat big in Juárez
By Louie Gilot/For the Sun-News
JUÁREZ, Mexico — At the rastro, the municipal slaughterhouse in Juárez, thousands of animals are slaughtered for human consumption each month with the swift stab of a knife to the back of the neck. About a quarter of them are American horses.
But tracking just how many of the local mounts end up on tables down south is difficult, said a livestock inspector for the Las Cruces area...
Shaun McCauley, an inspector with the New Mexico Livestock Department who is based in Las Cruces, said it's hard to track where the horses sold in southern New Mexico end up.
"A lot of the horses that are sold at auction, we really have no idea of where they go," he said...
The Juárez slaughterhouse used to kill only about 20 horses a month, but after Mexico closed its border to U.S. imports of cattle, citing the fear of mad cow disease, local meat distributors struggled to make up for the loss, Luis Manuel Terrazas, the slaughterhouse's director, said.
These days, his 60 workers put to death about 1,400 horses a month, just under 30 percent of all the animals killed. About 70 percent of the horses come from U.S. ranches...
There is no consumption of horse meat in the United States — not even for pet food — but more than 90,000 U.S. horses were slaughtered for exportation to Europe and Japan last year in three
foreign-owned slaughterhouses: Beltex Corp. in Fort Worth, Texas, owned by a Belgian company; Dallas Crown in Kaufman, Texas, owned by a French company; and Cavel International in DeKalb, Ill., owned by a Belgian company.
American activists are trying to outlaw the slaughter of horses, calling it cruel. The practice has decreased from 342,877 horses slaughtered in 1989 to 91,757 last year, but it has crept up in the past four years, according to Department of Agriculture statistics. Many U.S. horses are also exported to Mexico and Canada for slaughter, but exact statistics were not available.
Two bills currently stalled in committee would prohibit the slaughter of horses in the United States and the transportation of horses for slaughter elsewhere — HR 503 in the House and S 1915 in the Senate...
The slaughterhouse does not use a so-called captive bolt gun, the standard device in the U.S. slaughter of horses that renders the animal unconscious by shooting a metal rod into the horse's brain. The Mexican worker uses a method reminiscent of the final blow in a bullfight. The animal dies in what appears to be five to 10 seconds...[READ ENTIRE ARTICLE]
Sun-News reporter Jason Gibbs contributed to this report.
Louie Gilot writes for the El Paso Times, a member of the Texas-New Mexico Newspapers Partnership, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org