La Palette gets back on the horse

Last summer, we reported that Queen West’s La Palette had pulled horse from its menu after a Toronto Star article shed some light on the shadier aspects of the horse slaughter industry. Well, after months of deliberation, La Palette is bringing the controversial delicacy back.

In 2006, a US bill defunded the inspection of meat processing plants that slaughtered horses. Since meat that isn’t inspected can’t be sold, the horsemeat industry in the US effectively collapsed. The result was that American horses were sent north (and south) to be slaughtered, but, as the Star revealed, that was bad news for horse eaters.

Horses aren’t generally raised for human consumption, and Canada’s differing inspection standards, which weren’t equipped to deal with the influx of American stock, led to fears that consumers were being exposed to phenylbutazone (PBZ), an anti-inflammatory drug used in horses but banned for human use.

But a bill passed by the Obama administration last fall has opened up the possibility for inspections in the US again, and La Palette will be bringing back equine delights as of Feb. 2.

“In light of the information that came out over the summer, we took horse off of the menu; we played it safe to make sure our customers were taken care of,” says La Palette co-owner Shamez Amlani. “But we’ve spoken at length with officials here in Ontario who do the testing, and … we’ve spent the past six months doing as much research as we can. We’re very certain that we’ll be serving our customers high-quality meat.”

Amlani is confident that, with inspections taking place in the United States again, American horses will no longer be mixed in with Canadian horses. And as always, he remains steadfast in his decision to sell horsemeat.

“If you need to point the finger at someone — I mean, to all of the animal activists out there, just look at McDonalds.”

Now, for the connoisseurs: La Palette will be serving both light horsemeat, which is firmer (Amlani calls it “Italian style”) and darker meat, which is softer, based on availability. They’ll be letting their customers know what they have in stock on a day-to-day basis.