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.