LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The European meat scandal is growing as traces of horse meat continue to end up in beef products and it has Kentucky horse lovers calling foul.
First, Burger King cut ties with its European supplier and Monday furniture giant IKEA pulled meatballs from its stores. Horses are beloved in the Bluegrass state and they're also big business. That's why the thought of horses going to slaughter, for many people, is both disgusting and dangerous.
Thinking about becoming a vegetarian? Now might be a good time. Ask any European who's worried and wondering exactly what they're eating. Nestle's European operations also announced a recall of Buitoni beef ravioli and tortellini after traces of horse DNA were found. British officials have said they won't be surprised to find more instances of gross contamination.
"It's shocking that this can happen to horses," said Michael Blowen, the founder of Old Friends Retirement Center for Thoroughbreds in Georgetown.
Blowen started his non-profit in Kentucky years ago after finding out Kentucky Derby winner and Horse of the Year Ferdinand ended up in a slaughterhouse overseas. Blowen said it's sad that the public outrage over Ferdinand didn't lead to any significant legislation to prevent it.
According to Blowen, eating horse meat is not only disrespectful to a beloved animal and celebrated athlete, but it's simply not safe.
"These horses do run on Bute and they do run on Lasix," Blowen said, "and some of them even run on prohibitive drugs and there's no FDA approval." He continued, "so, you don't know what your ingesting into your system if you're eating this stuff, there's nothing good about it."
There's no proof that any of the meat in question is in America, chances are it's not because a ban on European beef is still in effect. Blowen said Kentucky's signature industry should be vigilant.
"To make sure, at least in Kentucky," Blowen told us, "that these horses don't end up on somebody's plate."
Blowen said the public has to put pressure on lawmakers to stop the horse slaughter. Republican Congressman Ed Whitfield of Hopkinsville has a bill that would outlaw the transportation of American horses for slaughter. The scare over the horse meat issue in European beef products might help get his bill get out of committee.
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