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Concerning Lack of Oversight in Horse Meat Industry, Audit Finds

A recent audit of Europe’s South American horse meat suppliers highlights a lack of oversight in the global supply chain. These findings align with Animal Equality’s 2022 investigation, which found extreme cruelty to U.S. horses slaughtered in Mexico.
November 15, 2023 Updated: January 29, 2024
Horse in a Mexican slaughterhouse.

When it comes to the most popular foods, horse meat might not be the first to come to mind. This is especially true in the United States, where horses are cherished as loyal companions, and their meat is no longer sold.

In Europe, however, the story takes a different turn. Despite declining horse meat consumption, several nations still permit its sale. The European Government asserts strict oversight of the horse meat supply chain, but a recent audit of its South American suppliers is raising eyebrows. 

The European Commission’s report highlighted issues in Uruguay, where facilities failed to properly document medical treatments for horses. 

Brazilian horses were also found in Uruguay, even though imports from Brazil were officially stopped in 2017. Matters were even worse in Argentina, where the only records regarding food safety were the words of facility owners themselves. 

This lack of oversight doesn’t just impact public health. It also raises questions about the well-being of these animals.

In the United States, exporting horses to Mexico and Canada is legal. Animal Equality’s investigators infiltrated this cross-border trade in 2022, and their findings stirred public outrage.

Extreme Animal Cruelty Captured on Camera

In 2022, Animal Equality investigators filmed American horses held at the Cárnicas de Jerez slaughterhouse in Zacatecas, Mexico. Here, they found American horses with identifiable USDA stickers. One of them was marked as Horse 5306, who was slaughtered the day after filming.

Many of the horses killed at Cárnicas de Jerez slaughterhouse come from a Texas auction. They are transported in overcrowded trucks designed for smaller animals, causing them to hang their heads for the entire 17-hour journey. Horses often arrive with bruises and other injuries. 

In the second part of this investigation, Animal Equality released footage of extreme conditions at a slaughterhouse in Chiapas, Mexico. While investigators were unable to confirm where these horses came from, it is possible that some were transported from the United States. 

Workers beat tired, sick animals to force them to move. Others used electric shocks to control horses or shot them in the head multiple times to stun them. Due to ineffective stunning, horses were hung by their necks with chains while conscious. Many remained conscious as they were slaughtered.

Spain Pig Farm

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You Can Take Action for Horses

Despite 83% of Americans desiring an end to the horse meat trade, tens of thousands are shipped from the U.S to Canada and Mexico each year. Their meat is then sold to Russia, China, Vietnam, and Japan. 

After Animal Equality launched a campaign against the export of horses for meat, hundreds of thousands signed a petition urging the U.S. Government to stop their export. You can join them by signing the petition here:


While many argue that these gentle companions deserve legal protections, horses are not the only animals that suffer for food. 

Animal Equality’s investigations have found hens confined in cages with their dead companions, simply for a plate of scrambled eggs. They’ve found mother cows separated from their newborn calves, their milk sold to consumers. And they’ve found piglets’ remains scattered on factory farm floors, all for bacon and other pork products. 

You can stop cruelty to all animals–whether horses, pigs, cows, or chickens–by choosing plant-based foods. Simply visit Love Veg, where you can find free recipes to get started tonight. 

Compassion begins with your fork. Will you protect animals today?

Woman caring for a horse.

Defend HORSES

Considered companions by many, horses are sensitive and intelligent animals who deserve protection.

Protect these beautiful animals by choosing plant‑based foods.


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