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.
Beginning in fiscal year (FY) 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 (Section 794 of Pub. L. 109-97). 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 United States. 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 FY 2012 Agriculture Appropriations Act (see Pub. L. 112-55). Therefore, 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.
Just as FSIS does for all other amenable species, at establishments that receive a grant of inspection to slaughter equines, FSIS will ensure compliance with all relevant statutes and regulations, including the FMIA, the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (9 CFR 417) and Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures (9 CFR 416) regulations, and the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act (21 U.S.C. 603(b)) and implementing regulations (9 CFR 313).
Among other measures to protect the public health, FSIS will test equine carcasses for illegal drug residues. Because of the particular concerns about the possibility of drug residues in equine carcasses, FSIS will conduct intensified residue testing at establishments that receive a grant of inspection to slaughter equines.
Under this framework, inspection program personnel will tag equines that appear unhealthy or have visible needle puncture marks as "U.S. Suspect" and perform inspector-generated testing. In addition, FSIS inspection program personnel will randomly select and sample a number of carcasses from every lot of equines that pass ante-mortem inspection. The rate at which we will randomly select carcasses for sampling will be above our normal rate until we have significant experience with equine slaughter. FSIS has issued instructions to inspection program personnel on inspection of equines in FSIS Directive 6130.1, available at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/horses/6130.1.pdf.
FSIS has modified several Chemistry Laboratory Guidebook Methods to add equine muscle. These methods include: Screening for Phenylbutazone by ELISA; Screening for Chloramphenicol by ELISA; Screening and Confirmation for
Aminoglycosides by LC-MS-MS; Screening for Pesticides by LC-MS-MS and GC-MS-MS; Identification of Poisons and Toxins by GC-MS; and Screening and Confirmation of Animal Drug Residues by UHPLC-MS-MS, which can analyze for multiple drug
In addition, FSIS methods for other residues are available for equine. They include: Determination of Arsenic by Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy; Determination of Ivermectin, Doramectin, and Moxidectin by HPLC; and Liquid Chromatography/Atmospheric Pressure Chemical Ionization Mass Spectrometric (LC/APCI/MS) Confirmation of Ivermectin, Doramectin and Moxidectin.
To review the revisions to the guidebook, visit http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/science/laboratories-and-procedures/guidebooks-and-methods/chemistry-laboratory-guidebook.
Because of FSIS’ stringent inspection process, testing capabilities, and labeling requirements, American consumers should not be concerned that horse meat will be labeled and sold as the meat of another species, as happened earlier this year in other countries. 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
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