The Black Market In Black Beauties: A Piece For Spiegel Online About The Horse Meat Crisis

Source: Wiki Commons, Naturgeschichte für Bürgerschulen. Dr. Karl Rothe, Ferdinand Frank, Josef Steigl. I. Wien 1895, Verlag von A. Pichler's Witwe & Sohn.

Source: Wiki Commons, Naturgeschichte für Bürgerschulen. Dr. Karl Rothe, Ferdinand Frank, Josef Steigl. I. Wien 1895, Verlag von A. Pichler’s Witwe & Sohn.

How bureacracy has failed both horses and consumers, and how a long-held quest to provide cheap red meat for the working man ended in fraud. I need to add the credit for the Saint-Hilaire translation, which will appear here when I have time! Meanwhile, here’s something on the history of hippophagy, something on bute, and something on the use of horses to collect recycling waste.

UPDATE: As a Romanian reader pointed out, my sources claiming that many horses were slaughtered in the wake of an EU-inspired Romanian ban on horsedrawn carts were overreaching. The time lag is too great between events.  Mea culpa. The New York Times has done the actual legwork I didn’t do:

Fed by mostly fictitious accounts of a mass slaughter of Romanian horses after the introduction of new traffic rules banning horse-drawn carts, the news media in France and Britain reported that hundreds of thousands of Romanian horses had suddenly entered the food chain.

“It is total nonsense,” said Lucian Dinita, the chief of Romania’s road police. The nation, he said, did introduce a law in 2006 restricting horse-drawn carts on roads, but it was scrapped two years later and led to no mass culling of unemployed horses.

My information came from a 2008 Telegraph article and accompanying video, available here. It quotes local animal charities, vets and the then head of the Romanian police traffic safety department:

Chief Commissioner Carol Varna, head of the Romanian police traffic safety department, said that more than 1,000 carts had been seized since officers started to enforce the law.

“There are some owners who just let their horses go when they cannot afford them any more,” he said.

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