Will horse meat soon be coming to a grocery store near you?

Horses could soon be legally butchered in the US

(CNN) -- When President Barack Obama signed the spending bill into law on November 18, another piece of the legislation trotted in under the radar.

The Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2012, better known as the spending bill or H.R. 2112, allocated funding for several federal departments and agencies - including the U.S. Department of Agriculture - until September 2012.

And part of that bill lifted a 5-year-old ban on the slaughter of horses for meat.

In 2006, Congress "prohibited the use of federal funds to inspect horses destined for food, effectively prohibiting domestic slaughter" according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO).

Currently, there are no horse slaughterhouses in the U.S. If that were to change, the USDA assured it would conduct the appropriate inspections to ensure humane methods of handling the animals and humane slaughter in a statement.

While horses could soon be legally butchered, no money was actually allocated for horse meat inspections in the bill; ultimately, it'd be up to the USDA to find funding in its present shoestring budget.

The Humane Society has already published a Horse Slaughter Petition Act on its Web site, writing: "Horses in America are not raised as food animals; they are companions and the very symbols of our freedom. When horse slaughter did exist in the United States, USDA documentation confirms that it was a bloody and terrifying process."

And in a unexpected twist, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is in favor of the USDA's decision, supporting domestic horse slaughtering instead of shipping horses to Mexico or Canada for slaughter.

"It's quite an unpopular position we've taken," PETA founder Ingrid Newkirk told the Christian Science Monitor. "There was a rush to pass a bill that said you can't slaughter them anymore in the United States. But the reason we didn't support it, which sets us almost alone, is the amount of suffering that it created exceeded the amount of suffering it was designed to stop."

We have asked before if our readers would be willing to eat horse meat and were slightly surprised by the outcome:

I have and I enjoy it. 9.65%

I haven't, but I would. 28.38%

Only under dire circumstances 19.74%

I could never do that. 42.23%

And an Eatocracy poll from earlier this year shows a shift in perception toward horse meat consumption in the United States.

Do you think Americans will ever accept horse meat as part of their diet?

- No way. Never. 34.82%

- Only if there is no other option and we run out of other food sources 13.71%

- People don't really care that much what they put in their mouths, so yes 5.55%

- Possibly, but only after its health benefits are really proven 3.47%

- It'll take time, but why not? 14.3%

- It would be a huge success now if it were legal 4.11%

- People might try it as a novelty, but not as a staple -- it'll always have a bit of a taboo 13.73%

- Maybe some food freaks will consider it a delicacy, but most people won't touch it 9.28%

- Other (please share below) 1.05%

With the possibility of horse meat on the market as early as December, has your opinion changed?

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