Labour party raises fears bute from horse meat may have entered the food chain

Labour party raises fears bute from horse meat may have entered the food chain

Labour shadow environment secretary, Mary Creagh, has raised concerns that the anti-inflammatory horse drug, phenylbutazone (also known as bute) may have entered the food chain. She claims to have evidence of some horses slaughtered in the UK last year tested positive for the drug, which is harmful to humans.

Horses that have been treated with the drug phenylbutazone or ‘bute’ are not allowed to enter the food chain. There is no suggestion that the burgers that were recently found to be contaminated with horse meat contained the drug.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) carries out checks in slaughterhouses to ensure that horses presented for slaughter are fit for human consumption, in the same way as they do for other animals such as sheep and cattle. The FSA also carries out regular enhanced sampling and testing for phenylbutazone in meat from horses slaughtered in the UK.

In 2012, the FSA identified five cases where horses returned non-compliant results. None of the meat had been placed for sale on the UK market. Where the meat had been exported to other countries, the relevant food safety authorities were informed.

During the recent horsemeat incident the Food Safety Authority of Ireland checked for the presence of phenylbutazone and the samples came back negative.

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