More animal welfare than microbial food safety, although the two are linked: The fight over transparency in the meat industry

Amy has Spam in her blood, being spawned in Albert Lea, Minnesota.

spam-albert-leaTed Genoways, a writer whose book “This Blessed Earth: A Year in the Life of an American Farm” will be published next year by W.W. Norton writes in the N.Y. Times Magazine that it was still dark when Jay hit the highway. At 6 o’clock that morning, he would be starting his first shift at Quality Pork Processors, part of the Hormel Foods complex in Austin, Minn., almost an hour’s drive down Interstate 90 from his rented apartment in Rochester. He’d applied for the job on the meatpacking line barely a week earlier and was still mentally preparing for it. “When you’re in the car,” he told me recently, “you have to go over everything again.” He had to remember his story: where he was from, why he was there. He had to remind himself what he could and couldn’t say. He was going to be meeting a lot of new people that day, and it would be essential not to arouse suspicions.

Just before the exit off the Interstate, Jay passed an illuminated billboard for Austin’s Spam Museum: “Find slavation.” He steered down the winding road along the plant perimeter, past the high wall guarding the loading docks, until he came to the Q.P.P. employee entrance on Hormel Century Parkway. The factory was already enveloped in steam; overnight cleaning crews had hosed down the stainless-steel cutting line, and now the compound’s six-story hydrostatic Spam cooker was warming for the day shift. The steam billowed and swirled in the lights of the plant. Jay shuffled into the line of workers making their way through the employee turnstile. He swiped in and headed through the glass doors to where the day’s freshly laundered uniforms were being handed out, color-coded according to department.

 “What station?” the person at the window asked.

“Gam table,” Jay said. His job would be slicing open the rear legs of hog carcasses, loosening the tendons of the trotters and inserting a gambrel. “It looks like a clothes hanger, but with hook tips that point up,” he told me. The gambrel attaches to a trolley that carries the carcass on a chain conveyor system as it is broken down into “primal cuts,” before being sent to the Hormel Foods side of the plant for final processing and packaging.

Jay knew that the job would be physically grueling. To keep up with the speed of the line, a carcass had to be cut and hung in about six seconds. But more than that, it was going to be psychologically — even morally — taxing for him. Jay had been a vegetarian since he was in college. He couldn’t say why he quit eating meat, really, only that he always loved animals and that his vegetarian younger sister convinced him.

But in recent years, Jay’s commitment had grown. He became a vegan. When he was online, he found himself drifting toward websites of animal rights groups, pulling up footage of abuse shot by undercover investigators. One day it occurred to him that he should try to find such work. On a job site, he found an opening at Compassion Over Killing, or C.O.K., an advocacy group intent on ending cruelty to animals in agriculture and promoting vegetarianism. And just like that, he entered the shadowy world of undercover video activism, where no one around you knows whom you really work for and few people, not even your family and friends, know where you are or what you’re doing for months at a stretch. (To protect his identity, Jay uses only his middle name when speaking to reporters.)

Now, as Jay dressed in the locker room, put on a hard hat and picked up gloves in the equipment room, he could feel a weight descend on him. Once you’re inside, he said, you realize how alone you are. “You’re going to be out there pretty much by yourself,” he told me. “You’re going to be working these really long hours and seeing animal abuse on a day-to-day basis.”

His manager at C.O.K. had warned him that it would be months before he could transfer to the kill side of the plant, where live animals are handled, and weeks more before he would have enough video to complete the investigation. Every day for five or maybe six months, Jay would have to walk past posters reminding employees that all cameras were strictly prohibited inside the plant and to immediately report any suspicious individual, even if that person was a co-worker. The isolation and paranoia can be consuming, he said, coloring every sidelong glance, every passing conversation.

The story goes on to document how futile the mantra of USDA-inspected actually is.
So some spamalot, and Albert Lea’s own, Eddie Cochran.

For those who like veal

During site visits of veal processors, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) has reported processing deficiencies that likely contribute to increased levels of veal contamination. Here, we report the results of measuring aerobic plate count bacteria (APC),Enterobacteriaceae, coliforms (CF), and Escherichia coli during eight sample collections at five veal processors to assess contamination during the harvest of bob veal and formula-fed veal before (n = 5 plants) and after (n = 3 plants) changes to interventions and processing practices.

veal.slaughterHides of veal calves at each plant had mean log CFU/100 cm2 APC,Enterobacteriaceae, CF, and E. coli of 6.02 to 8.07, 2.95 to 5.24, 3.28 to 5.83, and 3.08 to 5.59, respectively. Preintervention carcasses had mean log CFU/100 cm2 APC, Enterobacteriaceae, CF, and E. coli of 3.08 to 5.22, 1.16 to 3.47, 0.21 to 3.06, and -0.07 to 3.10, respectively, before and 2.72 to 4.50, 0.99 to 2.76, 0.69 to 2.26, and 0.33 to 2.12, respectively, after changes were made to improve sanitary dressing procedures. Final veal carcasses had mean log CFU/100 cm2 APC, Enterobacteriaceae, CF, and E. coli of 0.36 to 2.84, -0.21 to 1.59, -0.23 to 1.59, and -0.38 to 1.45 before and 0.44 to 2.64, -0.16 to 1.33, -0.42 to 1.20, and 0.48 to 1.09 after changes were made to improve carcass-directed interventions. Whereas the improved dressing procedures resulted in improved carcass cleanliness, the changes to carcass-directed interventions were less successful, and veal processors are urged to use techniques that ensure uniform and consistent delivery of antimicrobials to carcasses. Analysis of results comparing bob veal to formula-fed veal found bob veal hides, preintervention carcasses, and final carcasses to have increased (P < 0.05) APC, Enterobacteriaceae, CF, and E. coli (with the exception of hideEnterobacteriaceae; P > 0.05) relative to formula fed veal. When both veal categories were harvested at the same plant on the same day, similar results were observed.

Since identification by FSIS, the control of contamination during veal processing has started to improve, but challenges still persist.

Contamination revealed by indicator microorganism levels during veal processing

01.aug.2016

Bosilevac, Joseph M.1; Wang, Rong2; Luedtke, Brandon E.3; Wheeler, Tommy L.2; Koohmaraie, Mohammad4

1: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Meat Animal Research Center, P.O. Box 166, State Spur 18D, Clay Center, Nebraska 68933, USA;, Email: [email protected]: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Meat Animal Research Center, P.O. Box 166, State Spur 18D, Clay Center, Nebraska 68933, USA 3: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Meat Animal Research Center, P.O. Box 166, State Spur 18D, Clay Center, Nebraska 68933, University of Nebraska Kearney, 905 West 25th Street, Kearney, NE 68849, USA 4: IEH Laboratories and Consulting Group, 15300 Bothell Way N.E., Lake Forest Park, Washington 98155, USA

Journal of Food Protection, August 2016, Number 8, Pages 1341-1347, DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.4315/0362-028X.JFP-15-572

http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/iafp/jfp/2016/00000079/00000008/art00006

Not a Letterman list: Top 6 STECs in Canada

The incidence of the top 6 STEC serotypes was determined in two beef slaughter houses. In total, 328 samples were taken of hides, de-hided carcasses and the plant environment. Samples were enriched in Tryptic Soy Broth containing novobiocin then screened using RT-PCR GeneDiskÒ system that targeted stx, eae and wzx genes.

top.10.lettermanIt was found that 92.5% (172 of 186) of the hide samples. 72.5% (29 of 40) de-hided samples and 84.3% (86 of 102) of the environmental samples returned presumptive positive results. Serotypes O103, O45 and O121 were most commonly encountered although all the Top 6 serotypes were represented within individual samples. However, attempts to recover the Top 6 serotypes by culturing proved unsuccessful despite screening up to 20 colonies per CHROMAgar® plate of enriched sample. The reasons for the discrepancy between the RT-PCR and culture methods were found to be due to low levels of the target in enriched samples, presence of virulence factors in different cells and also the transient retention of stx. With regards the latter it was found that strains harboring a full set of virulence factors (eae, stx) were more common in grown cultures held post-incubation at 4 °C for 14 days. Moreover, no stx gene was recovered when isolates were sub-cultured on TSA but was present in the same strains grown on CHROMAgar®. In total 39 STEC isolates were recovered with the majority harboring stx1, stx2, eae and hylA. Only 3 of the isolates had stable complement of virulence factors and were identified as O172:H28, O76:H7 and O187:H52.

Although no Top 6 STEC were isolated the presence of virulent strains on carcasses with the potential to cause Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome is of concern. The significance of those STEC that transiently harbor virulence factors is unclear although clearly impacts on diagnostic performance robustness when screening for the Top 6 non-O157 STEC.

Incidence of Top 6 shiga toxigenic Escherichia coli within two Ontario beef processing facilities: Challenges in screening and confirmation testing

AIMS Microbiology, 2016, 2(3): 278-291. DOI: 10.3934/microbial.2016.3.278

Bannon, M. Melebari, C. Jordao Jr., C.G. Leon-Velarde, K. Warriner

http://www.aimspress.com/article/10.3934/microbiol.2016.3.278

Feed-to-farm-to-slaughter-to-267 sickened with Salmonella in Germany, 2013

One of the largest and longest Salmonella outbreaks in Germany within the last 10 years occurred in central Germany in 2013.

neuruppin-germany-butchers-slaughtered-in-processing-pigs-d2w996To identify vehicles of infection, we analysed surveillance data, conducted a case-control study and food traceback. We identified 267 cases infected with Salmonella Infantis with symptom onset between 16 April and 26 October 2013 in four neighbouring federal states.

Results of our study indicated that cases were more likely to have eaten raw minced pork from local butcher’s shops [odds ratio (OR) 2·5, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1·1–5·8] and have taken gastric acid-reducing or -neutralizing medication (OR 3·8, 95% CI 1·3–13) than controls.

The outbreak was traced back to contaminated raw pork products found in different butcher’s shops supplied by one slaughterhouse, to pigs at one farm and to an animal feed producer. Characterization of isolates of human, food, animal, feed, and environmental origin by phage-typing and pulsed-field gel electrophoresis confirmed the chain of infection.

Insufficient hygiene standards in the slaughterhouse were the most probable cause of the ongoing transmission. We recommend that persons taking gastric acid suppressants should refrain from consuming raw pork products. Improving and maintaining adequate hygiene standards and process controls during slaughter is important to prevent future outbreaks.

A prolonged outbreak of Salmonella Infantis associated with pork products in central Germany, April–October 2013

Epidemiology and Infection / Volume 144 / Issue 07 / May 2016, pp 1429-1439

http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=10259962&utm_source=Issue_Alert&utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=HYG

Guidelines are nice, enforcement? Undercover video at Hormel Foods facility

An undercover video taken at one of the nation’s largest pork producers shows pigs being dragged across the floor, beaten with paddles, and sick to the point of immobility. By law, pigs are supposed to be rendered unconscious before being killed, but many are shown writhing in apparent pain while bleeding out, suggesting that they weren’t properly stunned. “That one was definitely alive,” a worker says.

an.welfareThe video also appears to show pigs with puss-filled abscesses being sent down the line. Others are covered in feces.

“If the USDA is around, they could shut us down,” says a worker, wearing a bright yellow apron, standing over the production line.

The graphic video — available on YouTube in an edited form — was covertly filmed by a contracted employee of Compassion Over Killing, a nonprofit animal rights group that claims to have infiltrated an Austin, Minn., facility run by Quality Pork Processors (QPP), a supplier of Hormel Foods, the maker of Spam and other popular processed meats. The group has turned over the 97-minute unedited video to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which has raised serious concerns about the conditions at the QPP facility and pledged a thorough investigation. A reporter has also seen the full-length video provided by the group.

“The actions depicted in the video under review are appalling and completely unacceptable, and if we can verify the video’s authenticity, we will aggressively investigate the case and take appropriate action,” said USDA spokesman Adam Tarr, adding that the agency can’t comment definitively in the middle of the probe.

QPP, which has seen both the edited and unedited versions, says the edited film makes it look as though there were violations when, in fact, there were none.

“Early on, there may very well be contamination present in the process, but we have multiple interventions that ensure that it will not only be visually removed, but completely removed,” said Nate Jansen, who is the vice president of human resources and quality services at QPP. “Had it been allowed to show the entire sequence of these events, all of these hogs were all handled appropriately.”

To gain access to the QPP facility, the Compassion Over Killing contractor applied for five months for jobs at meat processing companies and was eventually hired at QPP. Compassion Over Killing requested the person’s name not be disclosed because he still works at QPP, but showed a pay stub indicating employment there. The person did not describe on his job applications his affiliation with the activist group.

“I don’t think you can look at the video along with the USDA guidelines and say that QPP is following the law,” said Ted Genoways, the author of “The Chain: Farm, Factory, and the Fate of Our Food,” and has seen the video but is not associated with the group. “This plant is the symbol of everything that is wrong with the meat industry.”

In particular, the video shines a light on a government-approved pilot program, known as the HACCP-Based Inspection Models Project (HIMP), which allows processors like QPP to assume more responsibility over the inspection process.

The company is one of five pork processors participating in the HIMP program, which the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) first launched in the late 1990s. As part of the initiative, the government substantially changed the way it oversees meat production, more than doubling the number of safety checks (from 11 to 24) within a facility and reallocating government inspectors to focus more closely on food safety. The goal, as stated on the agency’s Web site, was to “produce a flexible, more efficient, fully integrated” system.

In the HIMP inspection model, three government inspectors are stationed on the production line, compared to the usual seven who oversee the handling of carcasses in the traditional system. In both, an additional offline inspector is free to move around. The reduction in government inspectors dedicated to checking hogs on the line has allowed the government to save money by reducing its inspection force. It has also allowed plants to increase their line speed — on average, participants in the pilot program process roughly 120 extra hogs per hour, according to the USDA.

The USDA speaks highly of the program, which it has repeatedly defended. “Obviously, we believe that the model is an appropriate one,” said Phil Derfler, the deputy administrator at FSIS. “That’s why we went ahead with the rule-making in order to adopt it — it’s an improvement on the traditional system.”

But Lisa Winebarger, who serves as a legal counsel to Compassion Over Killing and helped bring the investigation to the USDA, said QPP is violating those directives.

“I understand that QPP is denying any wrongdoing, but we can assure you that much of what we have documented are serious problems labeled as ‘egregious inhumane treatment’ and ‘egregious noncompliances'” by the government’s directives, she said.

‘I believe it happened at slaughter’ and other delusions: 9 sickened with E. coli from Worthy Burgers in Vermont, STEC found in unopened beef

Vermont health inspectors found the DNA of Shiga toxin in unopened packaged beef at a South Royalton restaurant and believe that undercooked hamburgers at Worthy Burger were the source of an E. coli contamination that sickened several people in late summer, a Vermont health official said Tuesday.

happy.cowsBradley Tompkins, a health surveillance epidemiologist with the Department of Health, also said two more cases of E. coli have been linked to people who dined at the restaurant, and that there now are six confirmed and three probable cases of E. coli in the Vermont outbreak. All have recovered, although to varying degrees, he said.

Tompkins said eight of the nine diners ate ground beef at Worthy Burger between the end of August and the middle of September, when investigators with the Vermont Department of Health inspected the restaurant, recommended some changes, and took some beef and lettuce, which is served on the hamburgers, to test.

The lettuce tested negative — “we do not believe lettuce played a role in this outbreak,” Tompkins said — but the health department found the DNA for Shiga toxin in the ground beef.

When they tried to grow the E. coli in the lab, however, it came out to be a slightly different strain than the one found in the patients from Vermont. Still, Tompkins said, the department believes the beef is to blame.

“It’s certainly not conclusive that it did come from the ground beef, (but) based on the interviews that were done with the patients and that we found the E. coli and the Shiga toxins … we do believe the outbreak was caused by the ground beef that was being undercooked from the restaurant,” Tompkins said.

Asked which farm the beef came from and where it was slaughtered and packaged — Worthy Burger relies on local suppliers for its grass-fed beef and other food — Tompkins referred a reporter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, which oversees slaughterhouses.

USDA spokeswoman Gabrielle Johnston said “there’s still debate whether it’s actually been linked to the beef” and said the matter is “still under investigation.”

Aaron Lavallee, another USDA spokesman who was on the same phone line with Johnston, said the agency was not at a point where it would name which slaughterhouses are being investigated, but said officials are “trying to trace this back all the way to the slaughter facility.”

cow.poop.spinachWorthy Burger’s Executive Chef Jason Merrill said on Tuesday the beef that was tested was taken from the restaurant’s walk-in cold storage in its original packaging from a Vermont slaughterhouse, leading him to suggest the contamination could have occurred at what he called a “USDA-inspected plant.”

“The samples they took from us were in a receiving walk-in, and we hadn’t even touched it,” he said.

“I believe the beef was OK (at the farm), and when it got to the slaughterhouse, that’s when the infection happened,” Merrill said.

Australian kangaroo meat fails basic hygiene tests

Can’t blame imports on this one: Kangaroo harvesters in Australia have been discovered not adhering to the most basic of hygiene standards, documents obtained under freedom of information show.

kangerooInvestigations by the New South Wales (NSW)Food Authority have found numerous breaches of hygiene and safety rules that prevent cross-contamination of kangaroo meat, including carcasses hung from rusty hooks, lack of water and cleaning facilities, and live animals being allowed alongside dead ones.

Critics say the huge industry is still a wild west, with vast differences in the practices of different kangaroo harvesters, who hunt animals in the wild without the regulations of commercial farming operations.

But the head of the industry association has strongly rejected this claim, saying the overall rate of breaches is low and kangaroo undergoes more extensive testing for pathogens before it is sold than other meats.

Greens MP John Kaye, who obtained the information under freedom of information laws, said the potential for cross contamination in the meat meant no one could eat it without putting themselves at risk of infection.

“Poor hygiene practices have potentially devastating consequences for any food but game meat is particularly vulnerable,” he said. “No one should eat meat that was hung on rusty carcass hook, processed over a tray with old dried blood or exposed to other live animals with the risk of faecal and other contamination.”

“This so-called healthy alternative to other red meats could be riddled with pathogens.”

Five years ago Fairfax Media revealed independent testing had found dangerously high levels of salmonella and E.coli in kangaroo meat bought from supermarkets.

Daniel Ramp, a senior lecturer and director of the Centre for Compassionate Conservation at the University of Technology Sydney, said previously contamination levels had been found that were “way above safety standards”.

Halal slaughter: Outcry after UK undercover film exposes brutality of industry

Nigel Morris of The Independent reports that UK Ministers are under pressure to respond to growing public discontent about religious slaughter after an undercover investigation exposed the horrific mistreatment of animals at a halal abattoir.

halal.slaughterSecretly filmed footage which appears to show abattoir workers repeatedly hacking at sheep’s throats, hurling them into solid structures and kicking them in the face has intensified demands for a complete ban on the religious slaughter of animals without stunning them first.

Four slaughtermen at the North Yorkshire abattoir have had their operating licences suspended by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) after a catalogue of apparent brutality was caught on camera. The footage shows animals being treated with “gratuitous violence and contempt”, according to the charity Animal Aid, which carried out the investigation.

The film emerged days after a petition demanding that  slaughter without pre-stunning be outlawed passed the 100,000 mark, adding pressure on political leaders to bring in fresh curbs on inhumane practices in abattoirs.

halal.brutal.an.feb:15The Government has said it has no intention of introducing new controls on the production of halal or kosher meat, a line that David Cameron repeated during a recent visit to Israel. Animals are meant to be stunned before they are killed, but there are exemptions for Muslim and Jewish producers.

The covert filming at the Bowood Lamb abattoir in Thirsk, North Yorkshire, appears to show workers hacking and sawing at throats in contravention of Islamic practice, which requires animals to be killed with one clean sweep of a knife. In one instance it took five attempts to sever blood vessels.

The petition calling for an end to non-stun slaughter has been championed by the British Veterinary Association, which has warned ministers that they “simply cannot ignore the strength of public feeling” over animal welfare.

http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid753144093001?bckey=AQ~~,AAAAkVf4sTE~,ZHihQoc0Mak3KW61gTbGinrWzI69us3-&bctid=4028969078001

Ontario racehorses being sold for meat as slots shuttered

The theory of unintended consequences underscores Kurt Vonnegut’s 1963 novel, Cat’s Cradle.

According to QMI, it’s possible thousands of Ontario broodmares have been slaughtered for meat since the Liberal government announced the cancellation of a slot-machine program that generated millions in revenue for the horse-racing industry, an equine veterinarian says.

Mark Biederman, who works just outside Windsor said while he’s not sure how many broodmares have been sold for meat, he estimates it could be hundreds, if not thousands.

He said many of his clients have sold theirs.

Broodmares are retired female racehorses used to breed the next generation. But with the horse-racing industry in dire straits — facing hundreds of millions in losses — the old girls aren’t worth much anymore.

“The broodmares are the first casualty of the industry,” Biederman said. “There isn’t any market for them other than going for meat.”

Ontario’s horse-racing industry reels in $354 million a year from the soon-to-be-dead Slots at Racetracks Program, which divvies up profits from slot machines at tracks between the industry, the track owners and the government.

The province announced in the spring its plan to axe the program and divert the money to health care and education instead. Slot machines have already been removed from some racetracks in Ontario, and they’ll all be gone by March 31, 2013.

The move was met with opposition from people in the industry, and has forced some major tracks — such as the Windsor Raceway — to shut down.

It also means many horse owners can no longer afford to keep the animals.

Biederman says business is down 50% at his veterinarian clinic. He’s had to lay off staff and reduce hours. When the program officially ends in March 2013, he said he’ll probably pack up and leave the province.

“If the slot program is ultimately cancelled, I think that’ll be the death of the industry. I don’t think there will be any way to stay in Ontario. I think you’re gonna have a mass exodus of horses.”

Or as Vonnegut wrote,

“I’m not a drug salesman. I’m a writer.”

“What makes you think a writer isn’t a drug salesman?”

Canadian prods horse with hockey stick; rapid Taiwanese animation decries return of horse slaughter in US

Associated Press reported yesterday that horses could soon be slaughtered in the U.S. for human consumption after Congress quietly lifted a 5-year-old ban on funding horse meat inspections, and activists say slaughterhouses could be up and running in as little as a month.

Today, Taiwanese animation house NMA released one of their signature videos to address the situation.

Grub Street New York says things to watch for in the video are “the horse that gets zapped into a pile of money (we’re pretty sure that’s not how the slaughter actually happens) and the bloody Seabiscuit saddle at the French dinner table.”

I appreciated the Canadian slaughterhouse worker in a hockey jersey prodding a horse with a hockey stick.

Some background on the horse slaughter debate from AP; Australia also has two horse slaughterhouses.

Slaughter opponents pushed a measure cutting off funding for horse meat inspections through Congress in 2006 after other efforts to pass outright bans on horse slaughter failed in previous years. Congress lifted the ban in a spending bill President Barack Obama signed into law Nov. 18 to keep the government afloat until mid-December.

It did not, however, allocate any new money to pay for horse meat inspections, which opponents claim could cost taxpayers $3 million to $5 million a year. The U.S. Department of Agriculture would have to find the money in its existing budget, which is expected to see more cuts this year as Congress and the White House aim to trim federal spending.

The USDA issued a statement Tuesday saying there are no slaughterhouses in the U.S. that butcher horses for human consumption now, but if one were to open, it would conduct inspections to make sure federal laws were being followed.

Pro-slaughter activists say the ban had unintended consequences, including an increase in neglect and the abandonment of horses, and that they are scrambling to get a plant going – possibly in Wyoming, North Dakota, Nebraska or Missouri.

Sue Wallis, a Wyoming state lawmaker who’s the group’s vice president, said ranchers used to be able to sell horses that were too old or unfit for work to slaughterhouses but now they have to ship them to butchers in Canada and Mexico, where they fetch less than half the price.

The federal ban devastated "an entire sector of animal agriculture for purely sentimental and romantic notions," she said.

Although there are reports of Americans dining on horse meat a recently as the 1940s, the practice is virtually non-existent in this country, where the animals are treated as beloved pets and iconic symbols of the West.

A federal report issued in June found that local animal welfare organizations reported a spike in investigations for horse neglect and abandonment since 2007. In Colorado, for example, data showed that investigations for horse neglect and abuse increased more than 60 percent – from 975 in 2005 to almost 1,600 in 2009.

The report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office also determined that about 138,000 horses were transported to Canada and Mexico for slaughter in 2010, nearly the same number that were killed in the U.S. before the ban took effect in 2007. The U.S. has an estimated 9 million horses.