FSA says bute found in slaughter horses last year

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has admitted that horses sent for slaughter in the UK last year tested positive for the pain-killing drug phenylbutazone, but claimed meat from the animals did not enter the UK food chain.

The Agency was responding to claims by environment secretary Mary Creagh, who told the Commons that she had evidence that several horses slaughtered in UK abattoirs last year had tested positive for the painkilling drug, also known as ‘bute’, which has been linked to bone marrow and liver problems in humans. “It is possible that those animals entered the human food chain,” she said.

The FSA said that it carried out testing to ensure horses presented for slaughter were fit for human consumption, with regular sampling and testing for phenylbutazone in horsemeat.

It admitted that it had identified eight cases where horses tested positive for bute last year. It added that none of the meat “none of the meat had been placed for sale in the UK market” but said five were exported for food.

It added that where the meat had been exported, the relevant food safety authorities had been informed.

Concerns over phenylbutazone in horsemeat were raised following the recent horsemeat burger scandal, which erupted when the Food Safety Authority of Ireland revealed that burgers sold in Tesco, Iceland, Lidl and Aldi had tested positive for horse DNA.

However, the Agency said that the FSAI had tested the burgers for the presence of the drug, and all samples had come back negative.


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