On 24th October 2023, US Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) reintroduced the Ejiao Act in the House of Representatives to ban the sale and trade of ejiao products in the United States. Ejiao is a gelatine made from boiling the hides of donkeys, used primarily in cosmetics and traditional Chinese medicine. Despite little scientific evidence of its purported health benefits, demand for ejiao is increasing dramatically.
Originally introduced in 2021, the Ejiao Act (then H.R. 5203 and now H.R. 6021) would prohibit the transport, sale, and purchase of ejiao products, as well as donkeys and donkey hides for the production of ejiao
To meet the demand for ejiao, some donkeys are stolen from their guardians and transported long distances in overcrowded trailers without food, water, or adequate rest. Infections or broken limbs are left untreated, and those who die in transport are often skinned on the spot.
Emily Dulin, chief executive officer of Brooke USA, the lead animal welfare organization working with Beyer’s office to build support for the bill, said, “The international trade in donkey-hide gelatine products is leading to the mass slaughter of donkeys, resulting in widespread harm to impoverished communities around the world. Congress is taking action to halt all importation of those products into this country.”
Suzanne Roy, executive director of the American Wild Horse Campaign, said, “Within the United States, we are witnessing a notable increase in the number of wild burros entering the slaughter pipeline due to the federal government’s extensive roundup and removal policy and its incentivised adoption program. This raises concerns that federally protected burros could be a target for slaughter in the ejiao trade. We are grateful to Representative Don Beyer for taking meaningful steps to protect domestic donkeys and wild burros alike.”
Ejiao remains largely unknown to most American consumers, yet the United States is the third-largest importer of products containing ejiao, after Hong Kong and Japan, with approximately $12 million in annual imports each year. China remains the leading consumer of ejiao in the world.
Some companies, like eBay, have prohibited the sale of ejiao, but others, including Amazon, continue to sell the gelatine. In February, the nonprofit Center for Contemporary Equine Studies sued Amazon, claiming that the e-commerce giant is violating California animal welfare law by selling items containing ejiao. The case is pending.