WASHINGTON – Four members of Congress will introduce a bill that would ban slaughter of horses for human consumption in the US and prohibit exporting horses for food slaughter.

Sponsoring the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act are US Sens. Mary Landrieu and Lindsey Graham, and Reps. Patrick Meehan and Jan Schakowsky. The legislators planned to introduce the legislation March 13. The bill already has received support from several groups, including the ASPCA, Animal Welfare Institute, The Humane Society of the United States and the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

"The practice of horse slaughter for human consumption is revolting to me as a horse owner, but also as a consumer," said Sen. Landrieu. "Horses are not raised for human consumption, and they are frequently treated with drugs and chemicals that are toxic when ingested by humans.

"Especially in light of the European horse meat contamination scandals, we must ensure that our food supply at home is not tainted with horse meat, nor should we supply an unsafe food product to foreign industries. I am proud to join my colleagues to introduce the SAFE Act to end the slaughter of one of the world's most beloved animals and help protect public health," she added.

The battle over horse slaughter in the US intensified following news that the US Department of Agriculture is likely to approve horse slaughter operations at Valley Meat Company, Roswell, NM. The company could be processing horses within months. Several states were considering bills that would allow horse slaughter. Most recently, Oklahoma's legislature approved two bills that would end the state's horse-slaughter ban while prohibiting the sale of horse meat for human consumption within the state.