Supplements Endangered

The current state of affairs in regulation of supplement/nutraceutical use in horses has reached a level of insanity. People can consume herbals and nutraceuticals, but they’re “illegal” to feed to horses.

Attempts to write legal definitions for these products have failed, and no one is picking up the ball. The best option appears to be legislation similar to that signed by President Clinton in 1994 that allows humans to consume these products.

It’s likely that the use of herbals and nutraceuticals for dogs and cats may eventually be permitted by similar laws. Incredibly, however, horses may be excluded because of their classification as a human food animal/livestock.

By the latest American Horse Council statistics, an estimated 6.9 million horses are in this country. It’s an industry that involves $25.3 billion a year.

In 1999, the last year for which we could find statistics, 62,813 horses were slaughtered in the United States. An additional one-third of the 24,026 horses slaughtered in Canada for human consumption originated in the United States. Thankfully, this number is down considerably from a high of 342,877 horses in 1989.

The “killer buyers” who purchase these horses at auction pay less than $1 per pound and make a profit of about $50 on each horse sold. Once processed, the meat sells overseas, predominantly in Europe and Japan, for about $5 a pound.

We find it totally ridiculous that this relatively tiny business should carry sufficient influence to prevent the other almost seven million horses in this country — that will never end up in slaughterhouses — from being able to receive the supplements of their owners’ choice.

Even more ridiculous is a concern over trace amounts of nutraceuticals and herbals in horses when these substances are legal for human consumption both here and abroad in their undiluted state. Laws permit the feeding of prescription drugs, even over-the-counter oral organophosphate insecticides, with no restrictions beyond a label caution of “not for use in animals intended for food.” Is glucosamine more of a health threat than insecticide residues’

We don’t slaughter dogs and cats in this country, nor do we sell them overseas to cultures that do — and it’s likely these animals will get access to the herbals and nutraceuticals they need. Our horses deserve the same treatment. Tell your state representatives.

’Til Next Month,

-Eleanor Kellon, VMD

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