When people start talking about how horsemeat is just like beef or pork and why shouldn’t they eat it, etc etc, I always say, sure! go ahead! but do you know the source of the horseflesh you’re eating?
If you can guarantee that the horse you’re making into steak was (a) raised wild or (b) raised purely for meat, then you’re safe as houses. If, however, that horse has been used for riding or sports then, well, you might as well ingest BSE-riddled beef or salmonella-laden eggs. The veterinary drugs that those horses have been given are not safe for secondhand human consumption, and you’ll find plenty of peer-reviewed scientific material to back that up.
The EU is now introducing regulations to try to safeguard European consumers of horsemeat from these dangerous trace substances, but as a fair amount of the horseflesh consumed comes from the USA and Canada, there’s been a lot of speculation as to how well this will be policed.
Racehorses (in the US A LOT of drugs go into these animals in particular) are going directly from the track to slaughter. Some of the firms which are doing the slaughtering in Canada and Mexico have pretty poor histories of following safety procedures.
The Equine Welfare Alliance (more here) Lucille Matte has launched a new site aiming to provide information to European consumers, by anti-slaughter advocates, called American Horsemeat. I have some issues with the content – it’s not true that horsemeat is a delicacy here in Europe (it’s often cheap supermarket meat) – but they do seem to have tried to give links to peer-reviewed papers rather than being excessively emotive.
It’ll be interesting to see what happens as the legislation supposedly swings into effect.