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When traces of horsemeat were discovered in European beef supplies, Americans were shocked. But new developments in the horsemeat scandal might prompt us to take a better look at the “beef” in our own supermarkets.

Most Americans don’t eat horsemeat, but they are unaware that the U.S. routinely exports the beef look-alike to Canada and Mexico. Horsemeat was previously banned in the U.S, but the U.S. ban on slaughtering horses for human consumption was lifted in 2011.

In California the ban is still in effect, but an undercover investigation revealed that it does little to protect the animals.

Livestock auctions are where horse traders known as “killer buyers” go to snap up horses for pennies on the dollar. “It’s highly likely that kill buyers are going to scoop up horses that show up at auction,” said Cheryl Jacobson, who heads up equine protection for the Humane Society of the United States.

Jacobson said the auction process is known as the slaughter pipeline. From auction houses, the horses are then trucked to feedlots, and from there to slaughterhouses in Canada and Mexico.

“They are packed in there. They have long transportation times without food or water or rest,” Jacobson said.

 

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