Bute found in horse carcasses in UK

By Thomas Moore, Health Correspondent
Sky News

Low levels of a potentially dangerous drug have been found in horsemeat destined for human consumption.

(Feb. 14, 2013) — New figures released by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) show that eight horses slaughtered in the UK between January 30 and February 7 tested positive for the veterinary painkiller bute.

But FSA tests on Findus processed beef products withdrawn from sale in the UK after the discovery of traces of horsemeat found no evidence of the drug.

Six of the carcasses that tested positive were from the abattoir LJ Potter Partners in Taunton, Somerset.

They had already been exported to France and may have entered the food chain. Authorities are urgently trying to trace the meat.

The other two carcasses were found at High Peak Meat Exports of Nantwich, and were disposed of.

PHOTO: BEN STANSALL/AFP/GETTY Sally Davies, UK's Chief Medical Officer.
Dame Sally Davies, UK’s Chief Medical Officer.

Chief Medical Officer Dame Sally Davies said bute – also known as phenylbutazone – can cause skin rashes and problems with blood cell production when used in humans at therapeutic doses.

But the contaminated horsemeat contained levels much lower than those used to treat patients.

“If you ate 100% horse burgers of 250g, you would have to eat, in one day, more than 500 or 600 to get to a human dose,” she said.

“It would really be difficult to get up to a human dose.”

The FSA said it is investigating how contaminated horses slipped through the net.

All horses are legally required to have a passport, which is stamped if they are treated with bute.

Abattoirs are required to check the passport before slaughtering the animal, and discard all those where bute has been used or their treatment history is uncertain.

Around 9,000 horses a year in Britain are slaughtered for human consumption. Almost all the meat is exported. Read more, watch video >>


If they found low level amounts only, and bute is not that dangerous, then why all the alarm about bucking up failed medical documentation systems and absent or inadequate drug testing? Why is there a policy that horses whose treatment history is uncertain are “discarded”? (whatever that means).

It sounds like they are trying to dodge some bullets here and mollify the public. Horsemeat has been found in baby food. Would you feel safe feeding your baby bute-contaminated horsemeat?

At any rate, we would love to see the theory proved, and the best way to test it is most likely the Courts. We are watching for lawsuits against the government, the abattoirs and the purveyors who mislabeled potentially toxic meat and sold it to the public.


Horsemeat and bute: Q&A — As farming minister tells MPs that veterinary painkiller bute may be in the food chain, here are answers to the key questions; The Guardian; 14 February 2013

12 thoughts on “Bute found in horse carcasses in UK”

    1. Thank you for the link to your article. I was going to write something up in the vain of “how bad is bute”? What you have written has more levels to it what I would have done.

      I am particularly grateful for your discussion on bute consumption. I have found the comments by so-called health experts that a person would have to eat a lot of horse burgers to get to the danger level to be silly and disingenuous. Just goes to show with paid experts you can buy any sort of opinion you want.


      1. Thanks Vivian, I am glad it was useful. I wonder if we shall hear more about bute as the scandal unfolds? Are there any other drugs that the horses might have been given?


  1. No one. Okay who wants to video the kill purchases? Hard to move a horse. Let’s video the kill buyers from purchase to sale. The only way to stop the sale of horses to kill buyers is to educate people.


    1. No one.
      Regulations are so lax it is unbelievable (i.e. horse slaughter in Canada and Mexico). For some reason the horse slaughter industry literally gets away with murder. No other meat food source is granted these concessions.


    2. Arlene, if I recall correctly only about 0.2% of horses that go to slaughter here in Canada (> 50% from the US) are tested for prohibited drugs. What a joke.

      And I suspect Mexico is even worse. Recent stats (2012) indicate that the US is now shipping far more horses to Mexico (~110,000) than to Canada (~56,000) where no doubt even more forgery and fraud occurs in addition to even worse slaughter conditions for these beautiful creatures.


  2. And the other question remains about the test itself. Many scientists argue that the test that is currently used only tests for bute in the tissue if it has been recently given to the horse; but bute given in the past remains in the bones and will become part of the meat. I would want to know about any bute in the horse meat.. Also American Horses have no passport..none. and it seems that even in England they are forged or ignored by the killers.


  3. Bute would be much harder to test for in product where meat from many horses is mixed together simply because this will reduce the ppm of bute in the meat and could easily drop below the sensitivity of the test. I won’t be surprised if it is not found in product tested.


Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s