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FSIS grants inspection to equine slaughter plant

The Food Safety & Inspection Service has issued a grant of inspection to Valley Meats Co. in New Mexico for horse slaughter.

According to a June 28 "Constituent Update," the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety & Inspection Service (FSIS) has issued a grant of inspection to a horse slaughter establishment, Valley Meats Co., in Roswell, N.M. FSIS said it expects two other applicants to be ready to receive grants of inspection for equine slaughter in the coming days.

The Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA) requires federal inspection of amenable species when slaughtered for human food and prepared for commerce. Horses, mules and other equines are among the livestock species that are amenable under the FMIA, FSIS said.

Beginning in fiscal 2006, Congress prohibited the use of federal funds to pay the salaries and expenses of personnel to perform ante-mortem inspection of equines intended to be slaughtered for human consumption. Without ante-mortem inspection, no horse meat is eligible for the FSIS mark of inspection, and without the mark, no horse meat can move in commerce. Thus, the effect of this prohibition was to end the slaughter of equines in the U.S. The prohibition continued from 2007 to 2011.

However, Congress has not continued this prohibition and did not include it for the use of appropriated funds in the fiscal 2012 Agriculture Appropriations Act. Therefore, FSIS said if an establishment meets and complies with all of the FSIS requirements for equine slaughter and processing, FSIS must grant federal inspection to the establishment.

FSIS explained that horses are not allowed to be slaughtered and horse meat is not allowed to be processed in the same facility as other species in the United States.

More information on FSIS' inspection of equine slaughter can be found at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/ horses/horses.html .

Needless to say, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Animal Welfare Institute and Animal Protection of New Mexico expressed their dismay over the decision.

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