HOUSTON -- A federal appeals court in New Orleans has ruled that horse slaughter is illegal in Texas. The state is home to two of the nation's three processing plants.
The decision was issued late Friday by the Fifth US Circuit Court of Appeals. It overturns a lower federal district court's ruling last year on a 1949 Texas law that banned horse slaughter for the purpose of selling the meat for food.
The lower court had said the Texas law was invalid because it had already been repealed by another statute and pre-empted by federal law.
But a panel of three judges on the Fifth Circuit disagreed. They said the law stood on its own merits and is still enforceable.
The ruling involves two of the nation's three horse slaughtering plants - the Dallas Crown Inc. slaughter mill in Kaufman, Texas, and Beltex Corporation in Forth Worth. A third plant DeKalb, Illinois isn't affected by the ruling.
Attempts to reach the two companies were unsuccessful.
Horse meat is not marketed as table fare in the United States. But the slaughter plants process hundreds of horses each week and ship the meat overseas, where horse flesh is considered a delicacy in Europe, Japan and other places.