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8 February 2013
Commenting on further reports that horsemeat has entered the food chain and is being sold as beef, Peter Jones, President of the British Veterinary Association, said:
“These incidents are understandably causing concern about the integrity of the food chain and so it is vital that the FSA and Defra carry out their investigations as quickly as possible. Consumers must be able to have confidence in the provenance of their food.
“We are pleased to see that the testing of beef products has been stepped up and that Defra has announced that all horses slaughtered for human consumption will be sampled for the presence of phenylbutazone (bute).
“Phenylbutazone is a painkiller and anti-inflammatory that is traditionally used in horses.
“A Maximum Residue Limit (MRL) in meat has not been established for the use of phenylbutazone in food-producing animals because of concerns regarding the toxicity of the drug and its metabolites, which can be harmful to human health over a lifetime exposure.
“A horse passport system was introduced because of a shortage of licensed medicines for horses considered safe for human consumption. Any medicine administered to a horse, not having an MRL established, must be entered into the passport by the veterinary surgeon at the time of treatment. This enables the use of such medicines whilst preventing the horse from entering the food chain.
“However, if there is evidence of illegal activity in which unregulated horsemeat of unknown provenance is entering the food chain then, of course, there will be an increased risk of phenylbutazone entering the food chain as it is a commonly used drug in horses.”