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The Humane Society of the United States Says Horsemeat Should Not Be on the Menu at MoMA

The Humane Society of the United States is urging the Museum of Modern Art to prevent the M. Wells Dinette, located in MoMA’s PS1 gallery, from serving horsemeat. In a letter to the gallery director, The HSUS cites concerns that the horse slaughter industry is cruel and inhumane, and horsemeat presents potential food-safety risks for consumers.

“New Yorkers don’t eat companion animals like horses, so MoMA PS1 should uphold its reputation as a cultural leader by refusing to allow the inhumane and potentially health-hazardous practice of serving horsemeat at its gallery,” said Brian Shapiro, New York state director for The HSUS.

Fight horse slaughter today

The HSUS is not aware of the source of the product to be served at the restaurant, but objects to killing these animals because the process of transport and slaughter is inherently inhumane. HSUS investigators have repeatedly documented the animal cruelty associated with slaughtering horses, including “killer” auctions and the method of transporting horses across the country and into Canada and Mexico in overcrowded trailers for days at a time in extreme temperatures. The slaughter process itself is difficult, as horses are flight animals, and many horses suffer during the misguided and often repeated attempts to render them unconscious. The HSUS’ undercover footage of horse slaughter shows the gruesome reality of the industry.

Americans do not raise horses for food, but rather as companions and for use in recreation and labor. Horses are given a wide variety of drugs, both legal and illegal, over the course of their lifetimes that can make their meat dangerous to humans.

Horse slaughter plants do not currently operate on U.S. soil; however, more than 100,000 American horses are trucked every year to Canada and Mexico to be slaughtered – with most of their flesh exported to Europe and Japan where horsemeat is considered a delicacy. There is no adequate safeguard in place to ensure that horsemeat is safe for human consumption, regardless of where the animal is slaughtered. There is no system for recording medications given to these horses over the course of their lives and therefore no reliable method of removing horses from the food chain who have been given substances prohibited for use in food animals.

In fact, dealers in the horse slaughter trade known as “killer buyers” have been found to have illegally falsified export documents, claiming that horses they sold to slaughter were free of prohibited drugs, for which they later tested positive. Due to the risks presented to human health, The HSUS has petitioned both the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration to label horsemeat as “condemned,” adulterated, and unqualified for use as human food. A January 2012 poll demonstrates that 80 percent of Americans oppose horse slaughter. Currently, the U.S. Congress is considering the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act, S. 1176/H.R. 2966, which would ban the slaughter of horses (including export of live horses for slaughter in other countries). The bill currently has 165 cosponsors in the U.S. House and 26 in the U.S. Senate.  

Read the full letter here.

Media Contact: Stephanie Twining, 301-258-1491, stwining@humanesociety.org