Drugs used to treat horses renders the meat adulterated and, therefore, unfit for human consumption or sale in New Mexico, according to a legal analysis by Gary King, the N.M. state attorney general.
"Our legal analysis concludes that state law does not allow for production of meat that is chemically tainted under federal regulations," King said in a statement. "New Mexico law is very clear that it would be prohibited and illegal."
The opinion presents a potential block to Valley Meat Co., Roswell, N.M. The owner, Ricardo De Los Santos, has been trying to re-open his former beef slaughter to process horse meat. If he is successful, Valley Meat would be the first plant to process horse meat since the federal government banned the practice in 2007. In May, De Los Santos received a letter from the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommending his application be processed and a grant of federal inspection be issued. De Los Santos plans to sell horse meat to foreign markets.
But in King's opinion, horse meat could be considered adulterated because of drugs used to treat them, and state laws mandate that adulterated food products cannot be manufactured, sold or delivered anywhere in New Mexico regardless of where the food is ultimately sold or consumed. King investigated the matter at the request of New Mexico State Sen. Richard Martinez, who had expressed concern that Valley Meat would be operating in the state illegally.
Reprinted in part from Meat & Poultry