What is the SAFE Act
If you care about horses, you should know about the SAFE ActIf you are a horse lover, then you probably already know about the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act. If you have heard about the scandals in European Union countries where horse meat was found in products labeled as beef, then you should know about it. If you are concerned about something like this happening in the U.S. or preventing the slaughter of horses for food in this country, then you should support it. So what is the SAFE act?
Restrictions on the slaughter of horses and processing of horse meat for human consumption in the U.S. have historically been enacted at the state and local levels, resulting some areas allowing the practice. In 2006, a federal law banning the slaughter of horses for food in the U.S. went into effect.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which is responsible for inuring the quality of U.S. beef and is called upon to grade it, managed the ban. The ban was ended by the USDA in 2011 as part of the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act. Shortly after that, a slaughterhouse for horses entered the planning stage in New Mexico.
How you can participate
What can you do to help pass the SAFE Act? Call, write or email your senators and representatives and tell them you support it. Do the same for other members of Congress, especially those in New Mexico and in states where horse racing is popular. You can contact them easily through web sites that support the act.
Donate to organizations dedicated to protecting horses. Encourage your friends to do the same. Support beef providers who offer certified products. Together we can protect our beloved horses and safeguard our food.
In January of 2013, horse DNA was discovered in frozen beefburgers in markets in Britain and Ireland. While horse meat is legally consumed in some countries of the European Union, it is taboo in others and products must be labeled to identify it as an ingredient. The scandal quickly spread to thirteen other European countries and made international headlines when horse meat was discovered in meatballs sold in IKEA furniture stores. The scandal, along with the application to the USDA by a New Mexico slaughterhouse for a permit to slaughter horses brought action by members of Congress.
On March 12, 2013, Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana sponsored Senate Bill S.541, the Safeguard American Food Exports Act. The bill was co-sponsored by Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and later sponsored in the House of Representatives as Bill H.R. 1094 by Representatives Patrick Meehan of Pennsylvania and Jan Schakowsky of Illinois. If passed, the bill would outlaw the slaughter of U.S. horses for human consumption and ban the transport of horses to slaughterhouses in Mexico or Canada.
A number of issues are addressed by the bill. There is evidence that up to 160,000 U.S. horses were exported for slaughter in 2012. This practice is largely unregulated in many countries and the horses are treated and killed inhumanely. In addition, many of these animals are former racehorses and as a result have been given drugs for performance enhancement, pain relief and anti-inflammation that are illegal or banned by the Food and Drug Administration because they are harmful to humans. The SAFE Act would prohibit commercial horse slaughterhouses in the U.S., protect horses from cruelty and ensure that the public would be safe from falsely-labeled foods and the dangerous drugs they could contain.
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