New Mexico horse slaughter plant faces new hurdle

by Meat&Poultry Staff
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SANTA FE, New Mexico – Drugs used to treat horses renders the meat adulterated and therefore unfit for human consumption or sale in New Mexico, according to a legal analysis by Gary King, the state attorney general.

"Our legal analysis concludes that state law does not allow for production of meat that is chemically tainted under federal regulations," King said in a statement. "New Mexico law is very clear that it would be prohibited and illegal."

The opinion presents a potential block to Valley Meat Co., Roswell, NM. The owner, Ricardo De Los Santos has been trying to re-open his former beef slaughter to process horse meat. If he is successful, Valley Meat would be the first plant to process horse meat since the federal government banned the practice in 2007. In May, De Los Santos received a letter from the US Department of Agriculture recommending his application be processed and a grant of federal inspection be issued. De Los Santos plans to sell horse meat to foreign markets.

But in King's opinion, horse meat could be considered adulterated because of drugs used to treat them, and state laws mandate that adulterated food products cannot be manufactured, sold or delivered anywhere in New Mexico regardless of where the food is ultimately sold or consumed. King investigated the matter at the request of New Mexico state Senator Richard Martinez, who had expressed concern that Valley Meat would be operating in the state illegally.

In a letter to Martinez, King cites numerous studies that warn against consumption of US horse meat. A 2010 article in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology raised questions about the use of phenylbutazone, also known as 'bute'. That article stated that the drug was marketed in the US in 1952 as a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis and gout. But "serious and often fatal adverse effects such as aplastic anemia and agranulocytosis appeared in the literature within three years of its use."

The Food and Drug Administration has set no safe levels for the drug in food animals, and "bans the administration of this drug in any horse sent to slaughter for human consumption."

In a New York Times report, a lawyer representing the company said a drug residue testing program is in place at the facility, and plans to open the plant are moving forward.
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READER COMMENTS (3)

By Laurie Arnold 7/30/2013 8:28:41 PM
Land of disenchantment. Bet the aliens torched it LOL. Their attorney is an idiot and then there is dumb and dumber (Rick and Tim). They must have realized the trucks are just gonna keep buzzing on down to MX where no inspections required. I hope they lose every penny in this train wreck business.

By Louise Thoms 6/11/2013 12:16:52 PM
The same treatment is done for cattle so what's the difference? And seafood is 100% poisonous with radiation in it.

By JanWindsong 6/11/2013 11:28:20 AM
Although the lawyer representing the company states that drug residue testing is in place, the reality of this world is there is no way to test for the drugs and as FDA has stated, there is no threshhold to determine safe levels. So he can test all he wants to, there is no safe level. As we know, the drugs administered to horses for the most part have warnings that if administered to an animal, that animal is NOT to enter the human food chain. What part of that statement is confusing to these people? That statement of relinquishing the right to slaughter is pretty plain spoken. But then when money is involved, I guess some people will stoop to criminal levels, huh?