FSA delayed plans to test every horse prior to crisis

UK NEWS

Cross-posted from BBC News

Written by MATT McGRATH, Environment Correspondent, BBC News

Most of the meat from horses slaughtered in the UK was exported to other European countries. Getty images.
PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES
Most of the meat from horses slaughtered in the UK was exported to other European countries.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) explored the idea of testing all horses slaughtered in the UK months before the horsemeat food crisis began in January.

But the agency was concerned that the costs of extra testing would cause every horse abattoir to close down.

Without the faster tests, it is likely that meat tainted with phenylbutazone continued to enter the food chain.

The agency says the testing was delayed to allow a comprehensive review of all the impacts.

The number of horses presented for slaughter in the UK has doubled in recent years, with more than 9,000 animals killed at the five approved abattoirs in 2012. Most of the meat was exported to Europe.

FRAUDULENT PASSPORTS

Animals that have been treated with the anti-inflammatory medicine phenylbutazone or bute are legally barred from entering the food chain. Details of any treatment with the drug are meant to be recorded in a passport document.

But the UK has had considerable problems with fraudulent passports due to the large number of organisations of varying quality licensed to issue the documents.

Last year the FSA was made aware that increasing numbers of horses with questionable passports were turning up at abattoirs. In the summer it implemented a series of extra tests to determine if bute-tainted meat was getting through. Continue reading >>

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