Horsemeat Scandal Gets Scarier: Equine Drug Might Have Entered Food Chain

What started out as a scandal in food fraud has now turned into a possible food safety issue

Looks like the horsemeat crisis isn't over; just after everyone is sort of calming down thanks to gigantic recalls from food processors in Britain, The New York Times reports that a banned substance might have found its way into the food supply.

The British Food Standards Agency admitted Thursday that after checking 206 carcasses of horses slaughtered from Jan. 30 to Feb. 7, eight tested positive for phenylbutazone, known as bute. According to reports, six of those horse carcasses were sent to France and may have entered the food chain. "The F.S.A. is gathering information on the six carcasses sent to France and will work with the French authorities to trace them," a statement said.

Bute, a powerful equine drug, is occasionally prescribed to patients suffering from severe arthritis. Britain's chief medical officer Dame Sally Davies claims that the crisis has a very low risk to humans. "At the levels of bute that have been found, a person would have to eat 500-600 100 hundred percent horsemeat burgers a day to get close to consuming a human’s daily dose," Davies said in a press release. "And it passes through the system fairly quickly, so it is unlikely to build up in our bodies." Considering the levels of bute found in the horses, Davies says that it is rare that someone will experience any side effects after ingesting some horsemeat burgers unknowingly.

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TNVEGAN4's picture

Ugh! The whole idea of slaughtering animals for human food consumption is sickening anyway - horse, pig, cow -it doesn't matter. There are so many other good things for us to eat besides animals. Isn't is funny how we turn our collective noses up to horse or dog meat but don't think twice about eating other four-legged animals?

scientist's picture

I am not a horse owner and so you both are certainly more in tune with that than I. But, please do not assume that because you have certain experiences, that those same things apply here. How do you know the horses that are used for meat has any relevance to the horses you deal with? That is broad generalization. Are you familiar with the process? That would be the same deduction anyone can make without studies or scientific information. Nothing wrong with a conspiracy theory, and everyone should certainly question this.....why do we need to necessarily believe the Chief Medical Officer? Well, hopefully because there is science behind the process. As a side note, I always find it odd that people are so culturally engrained as far as food choices. I like horses, but I certainly would not mind trying to eat one....I hear it is a very sweet meat and yet so many are so opposed. Sounds like the classic ridiculous selectiveness that goes on to me. I really do not understand all of this ridiculous drama over this. My feeling is there should be far more regulated meat choices than we have and everyone should know where their food comes from and not be so emotional about it. Sometimes I wish people had to provide his/her own food and not be so detached. It is one thing to not choose to eat a horse, but why does everyone always feel like they need to make that choice for everyone else?

ganntjo's picture

Anyone who eats horsemeat is disgusting.....Needless to say.....There are so many things that are given to horses every day that are not things people should eat. Horse wormer in a variety of of different types, bute, banamean, steriods, and lots of other things that should not be ingested by people. The article above is so decieving. They are not telling you the whole truth and if you continue to eat horse meat you will be putting yourself at risk. I run a boarding stable and know what goes into horses. All I can say is YUK! Stop believing the lies folks.

Wearing A Crown's picture

As a horse owner, I know the uses of bute and this article is very misleading. Most horse owners have used bute at one point or another in their life. To translate it over it is the catagory of NSAIDS. The same as advil or aleve or many other pain killers on our shelves. The difference is that a Vet must prescribe Bute in order to obtain this drug. Despite this, most horse owners have it on hand in case of emergency. Regardless of what this article says it is used for many other things along with arthritis. It is actually quite common to have a horse on this drug, and many horse breed associations even have rules about the levels that can be allowed in a horse's bloodstream while showing. This article is misrepresenting and downplaying the usage of this product. It is hard to know what this drug could do to the human body. It is made for animals that weigh over 1000lbs. I think before such articles, like the one above, are written more research should be conducted to find the whole truth to present to its readers.

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