Phenylbutazone detected in horsemeat of ‘low concern’ says EU

Superiorbute. Google image.
Superiorbute. Google image.

Isn’t it amazing that phenylbutazone (bute) is a substance that is banned outright from entering the human food chain, no matter the amount, trace or otherwise. Yet the alphabet groups are falling all over themselves to defend it.

What this report does not mention is that trace amounts build up, and these results if reported correctly presuppose that a person has only eaten a product containing horse meat once.

Another item left out in this rush to promote horse meat as safe for human consumption is the long list of drugs potentially toxic to humans routinely administered to horses throughout their lives which excludes their meat from public consumption.

Here’s a portion of the report from UK Farming News:

Phenylbutazone detected in horsemeat of ‘low concern’ says EU

A joint assessment from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has concluded that the illegal presence of residues of phenylbutazone in horsemeat is of low concern for consumers due to the low likelihood of exposure and the overall low likelihood of toxic effects.

EFSA and EMA confirmed that it is not possible to set safe levels for phenylbutazone in food products of animal origin and therefore its use in the food chain should remain prohibited.

As part of this remit, EFSA and EMA delivered a series of recommendations to further reduce the risk of this substance entering the food chain, focusing on measures to strengthen traceability. The agencies reiterate the need to improve the monitoring and reporting of data on the presence of residues of veterinary medicines in live animals and food products of animal origin across the European Union (EU).

The request for advice from the European Commission follows the recent identification of beef products adulterated with horsemeat and the discovery of the anti-inflammatory drug phenylbutazone in horse carcasses illegally entering the food chain.

Phenylbutazone was previously evaluated by EMA in 1997 to establish maximum residue limits (MRLs) in food products of animal origin.

The data available at that time did not allow a conclusion to be drawn on the level of phenylbutazone that could be considered safe in food of animal origin. As no MRL could be established, animals treated with phenylbutazone are not allowed to enter the food chain. In their joint risk assessment, experts from EFSA and EMA used all currently available scientific evidence to assess the toxicity of phenylbutazone and reconfirmed these conclusions.

EFSA and EMA identified the health hazards associated with phenylbutazone and assessed whether consumer exposure to this substance through its illegal presence in horsemeat could be of concern.

Phenylbutazone is occasionally used in human medicine for the treatment of patients with severe rheumatoid arthritis and has been linked to rare occurrence of a blood disorder, aplastic anemia, which has been observed in 1 in 30,000 people treated.

The report concluded that the likelihood that a predisposed individual consume horsemeat contaminated with the drug and develop this condition is low – between 2 in a trillion and 1 in 100 million. This estimate takes into account the likelihood of consumers being exposed to phenylbutazone on a given day from the consumption of horsemeat itself or from beef products adulterated with horsemeat.

EFSA and EMA found that while the genotoxicity of phenylbutazone (that is, its potential to damage human DNA) could not be excluded, this was considered unlikely. The report also concluded that the risk of carcinogenicity is of very low concern given the estimated infrequency of consuming horsemeat containing residues of phenylbutazone (consumed as such or in beef products adulterated with horsemeat) and the estimated low levels of the drug to which consumers could be exposed through the diet. In estimating possible levels of phenylbutazone in foods, scientists used the highest concentration of the drug reported in the testing programme carried out by Member States.

Read full report here >>

4 thoughts on “Phenylbutazone detected in horsemeat of ‘low concern’ says EU”

  1. Government spin. Sound familiar? And what’s this “assumed low percentage of horse meat consumed?” Some people eat a lot of horse meat. Italian mothers put it in BABY FOOD. My GOD!


  2. This is a report that is aimed at helping the farmers that raise horses for slaughter. We all know they are doing it. This organization don’t care about what happens to the consumer their only interest is helping the farming industry sell their product. These people sound a lot like what happens in the US when there is a food recall. The only chance of stopping US horses going to slaughter is if the EU does stop the import of US horse meat because of not having the passport system that they demand. As far as I can see the anti-slaughter bill for the senate S.541 is not going anywhere. The house bill has gained 4 more cosponsors today H.R. 1094. But this is the way all of the bills have went in the past. If it was only the House to pass a bill this would have been stopped years ago. But the senate is so sleazy and crooked and paid off by the racing industry and other special interests that none of that bunch will ever pass anything.


  3. I agree with Arlene’s comment. The real crime is slaughtering horses. The EU’s safety board should be ashamed of themselves for even saying that traces of this don’t affect humans. Horses are here to be loved, not eaten.


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