The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals recently relied on a 1949 Texas law in holding that the two horse slaughterhouses located in Texas may not continue slaughtering horses for human consumption. The law makes it an offense to “sell, offer for sale, or exhibit for sale horsemeat as food for human consumption.” The law also prohibits transferring the meat to a person one knows or should know intends to use the meat for one of the prohibited activities. Since the ruling, numerous airliners including American Airlines and Delta Airlines have refused to continue shipping horsemeat from the Texas slaughterhouses to Europe or Japan where the meat is sold. This places a burden on slaughterhouse owners Beltex Corporation and Dallas Crown, Inc., who plan to continue slaughtering horses until their rehearing before the Fifth Circuit is resolved. Meanwhile, the only other slaughterhouse in the nation, located in DeKalb, Illinois, is also coming under pressure. Owned by Cavel International, the slaughterhouse burned down in 2002 and was reopened in 2004. Since then, it has failed to meet DeKalb District sanitary standards and has been fined at least $25,000. Currently, the District has put the fines into escrow pending Cavel’s development of a new refining system, but many hope to see the operation permanently shut down.
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