Carolinas divided on food safety legislation

Published 10:00 pm Thursday, June 9, 2016

Area residents Shelley Griffitts, Sally Rock and Ashley Goodlett met with U.S. Representative Trey Gowdy (R-SC) about the “Safeguard American Food Exports Act.”

Area residents Shelley Griffitts, Sally Rock and Ashley Goodlett met with U.S. Representative Trey Gowdy (R-SC) about the “Safeguard American Food Exports Act.”

After a recent meeting with Upstate SC residents Sally Rock, Shelley Griffitts and Ashley Goodlett, U.S. Representative Trey Gowdy (R-SC) joined 192 other members of the U.S. House as a co-sponsor of the “Safeguard American Food Exports Act,” also known as the SAFE Act (Act H.R. 1942). Gowdy was the fifth of South Carolina’s seven U.S. Representatives to signal his support by co-sponsoring the SAFE Act.

On the U.S. Senate side, South Carolina Senior Senator Lindsey Graham was one of the four original sponsors of that body’s version of the bill (Act S. 1214).

In contrast, neither of North Carolina’s two U.S. Senators, Richard Burr and Thom Tillis, are supporting the Safeguard American Food Exports Act. Only two of North Carolina’s 13 U.S. Representatives are, but not Western North Carolina’s Patrick McHenry (R-District 10).

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About the SAFE Act

According to both the House and Senate bills, the purpose of the SAFE Act is to prevent human health threats posed by the consumption of equines raised in the United States.

The reason U.S. horses pose potential health threats is that they are frequently and widely treated with a variety of prescription and over-the-counter substances for such purposes as disease or injury treatment, health maintenance, de-worming, calming, and age-related arthritic or metabolic changes, to name a few.

Since U.S. horses are not raised for human consumption there is no system in place to track the medications and veterinary treatments they’ve been exposed to, unlike the regulated beef and pork industries. Substances routinely administered to horses – including phenylbutazone, acepromazine, boldenone undecyclenate, omeprazole, ketoprofen, xylazine, hyaluronc acid, nitrofurazone, polysulfated glycosaminoglyean, clenbuterol, tolazoline, and ponazuril – are not intended or approved for use in products for human consumption

As Rock, Griffitts and Goodlett discussed with Congressman Gowdy, it is currently illegal for U.S. slaughterhouses to process horsemeat. But there are still ways for U.S. horsemeat to get into the food supply in the U.S. and abroad:

• First, U.S. horses are still being shipped to slaughterhouses in Canada and Mexico, where they can be processed and sold for human consumption in those and other countries, and from which they can “boomerang” back to the U.S.

• Second, studies in the U.S. and Europe as recently as August 2015 have found horsemeat in ground and prepared meat products sold in the U.S. and labeled as beef or pork.

• Third, the U.S. currently imports more than 1 billion pounds of beef a year from other countries, many of which also process horsemeat.

• Fourth, effective December 2015, Congress repealed the previously required “Country of Origin” information on labels for beef and pork products, making it harder for consumers to determine where meat products have been processed or packaged.

What the SAFE Act – and you – can do

If the SAFE Act becomes law it will prohibit the shipping of U.S. horses to slaughter in other countries for the purposes of human consumption, therefore preventing them from becoming part of the world’s food supply. But the SAFE Act first has to garner enough support to be “moved out of Committee” in both the House and Senate.

If no action is taken on the SAFE Act before December 31, 2016, it will expire. The bill would then have to be officially reintroduced in both the Senate and House, and all sponsoring legislators would have to renew their sponsorships.

NC Senators Burr and Tillis – who showed interest in equine issues when they introduced the Corolla Wild Horses Protection Act in 2015 – have not yet supported the SAFE Act. When asked why he was not supporting SAFE, Senator Burr responded that he was not hearing anything about it from his constituents.

To express an opinion on the SAFE Act, North Carolina residents can contact Senator Burr by calling his D.C. office at 202-224-3154, his Winston-Salem office at 800-685-8916, or going to for an email link. Senator Tillis can be contacted in his D.C. office at 202-224-6342, or at for an email link. North Carolina Congressman Patrick McHenry can be contacted at 202-225-2576 or go to for an email link. North Carolina residents outside of McHenry’s 10th District can find names and contact information for their U.S. Representatives at

South Carolina residents can contact Senator Tim Scott, who is not yet supporting the SAFE Act, in D.C. at 202-224-6121, in Greenville at 864-233-5366, or visit for an email link. Congressman Jeff Duncan of South Carolina’s 3rd District (Anderson, Greenwood, Laurens, etc.) can be contacted in D.C. at 202-225-5301 or at for an email link.

– article submitted
by Judy Heinrich