Four months after a Philadelphia chef stunned animal lovers with the announcement he would be serving horse meat to diners, now says he will not put it on his menu.
Chef Peter McAndrew, owner of Monsu Restaurant, told NBC10 that the flood of email from animal activists detailing the cruelty of horse slaughter was a wake up call.
"I was aware that you have to get the meat from a reputable source but what I learned is that it takes a longer time to kill a horse because they are much smarter than other animals,” said McAndrew. “I saw a video where they had to use an electric bolt three times just to put one horse down. Any other animal would have gone down the first time.”
The last U.S. horse slaughter house closed in 2007 after funding for USDA inspectors was pulled, but those funds have been reauthorized and operators are trying to open new plants in New Mexico and elsewhere.
Last month, Rep. Pat Meehan (R-Pa.) introduced legislation to end horse slaughter in this country and make it illegal to ship U.S. horses anywhere for slaughter.
It was unclear how McAndrew would have sold horse meat legally at his Italian market restaurant because it is against federal law to import horse meat for human consumption (However some 2 million pounds of horse meat from Canada is sold back to U.S. zoo operators.).
A World War II-era news story about wartime horse consumption said Pennsylvania law forbid the sale of horsemeat.
A spokeswoman for the state Department of Agriculture, Samantha Krepps, said she was unaware of that specific law but that there is no prohibition on offering horse meat for sale or consuming it.
However, the meat would have to come from an approved source, she said, and since there are no legal slaughter plants in the U.S., there are no approved sources.
Animal welfare advocates say not only is the process cruel and the idea of eating animals that have become pets reprehensible, there is a valid health reason not to eat horse meat: most horses, whether used for pleasure or racing or other competitions, are routinely treated with drugs toxic to humans.
For more on how drugged horses slip into the food supply in Canada, read this excellent piece in The Toronto Star.