While recent problems in Europe over whether horse meat was mixed with other types of meat or was substituted for beef without consumer's awareness prompted widespread outcry over the issue, there remains strong support for horse meat consumption in some regions of the world.

While human consumption of horse meat in the U.S. is not legal, it is a major food staple in eight countries around the world with China, Mexico and Kazakhstan at the top of the list. Worldwide the horse meat industry provides about 4.7 million horses a year for human consumption.

Proponents to horse slaughtering operations point out that when Congress removed USDA funding for horse meat inspections in 2007, which virtually shutdown horse meat processing operations in the United States, it prompted a significant increase in the number of horses being shipped to Mexico where horse slaughtering and processing is lawful. They argue that practice often resulted in a greater degree of cruelty to horses, in part because of overcrowded shipping conditions and also because of inhumane methods of destroying the animals in Mexican processing plants.

While there appears to be a major disagreement on the total number of U.S. horses shipped to Mexico and destroyed, some argue that number runs well into the hundreds of thousands of animals each year.

Regardless of whether processing horse meat is conducted on U.S. or foreign soil, the issue of whether it is a humane practice continues to grow.

Overall, an estimated 200 agricultural and horse breeding organizations originally opposed the proposed ban on horse slaughter in the U.S. and over 300 animal welfare organizations, horse trade groups, prominent horse owners, and corporate leaders supported the ban, illustrating the degree of controversy over the issue.


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