WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), and Susan Collins (R-Maine) today announced the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act, bipartisan legislation that would permanently prohibit the slaughter of horses for human consumption in the United States, as well as ban any related interstate or foreign commercial activity, such as the export of horse meat or the transport of horses to slaughterhouses in other countries.

“The gruesome practice of slaughtering horses for food has no place in the United States, and it’s well past time for Congress to say once and for all that horse meat is not what’s for dinner,” said Sen. Menendez, an eight-time recipient of the Humane Society’s Humane Champion award. “Horses are routinely treated with drugs that are not fit for human consumption and do not belong in our nation’s food supply. Our bipartisan legislation will help put an end to the cruel and inhumane slaughter of horses while protecting families from toxic horse meat and safeguarding the reputation of the U.S. food industry worldwide.”

While the slaughtering of horses for human consumption in the United States is exceedingly rare, data from the National Agricultural Statistics Service at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reveals that over 100,000 American horses are exported to Canadian and Mexican slaughterhouses each year. Earlier this year, Senator Menendez led a bipartisan coalition calling on Senate appropriators to defund horse slaughtering plant inspections by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which prohibits any slaughter plants from killing horses.

“Horse slaughter is inherently cruel and poses serious threats to the safety and wellbeing of American horses and consumers,” said Nancy Perry, senior vice president of ASPCA Government Relations. “The ASPCA thanks Senators Menendez, Graham, Whitehouse and Collins for reaffirming their commitment to saving America’s horses from this terrible fate, and protecting the American food supply from toxic horsemeat.”

“Americans don’t round up dogs and cats for slaughter and ship the parts of the animals to foreign countries. We shouldn’t do that with horses either,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS. “We commend Senators Menendez, Graham, Whitehouse and Collins for introducing this critical legislation to end horse slaughter once and for all.”

Full text of the SAFE Act can be downloaded here. The SAFE Act:

  • Amends the U.S. Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to deem equine (horses and other members of the equidae family) parts to be an unsafe food additive or animal drug
  • Prohibits the knowing sale or transport of equines or equine parts in interstate or foreign commerce for purposes of human consumption
  • Companion legislation was filed earlier this year by U.S. Representatives Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore), Ed Royce (R-Calif.) and Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-N.M.).