UK & World News
Horsemeat: Bute Found In Carcasses In UK
Low levels of a potentially dangerous drug have been found in horsemeat destined for human consumption.
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But FSA tests on Findus processed beef products withdrawn from sale in the UK after the discovery of traces of horsemeat found no evidence of the drug.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.
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.
The FSA said new rules brought in this month would in future prevent abattoirs releasing horse carcasses until tests had shown they were clear.
Recent changes to the testing process mean results can now be given in 48 hours. It used to take two weeks and carcasses were allowed to be sent for processing before results were returned.
Meanwhile, the French government said the French firm Spanghero knowingly sold horsemeat as beef and that it was withdrawing the firm's licence to process meat.
Consumer affairs minister Benoit Hamon said the company engaged in "fraud", and agriculture minister Stephane Le Foll said Spanghero's licence was being suspended while experts carried out tests on products at its processing plant.
Spanghero denied the claim.
Earlier, Staffordshire County Council announced it had taken beef off its school menus as a precaution.
Staffordshire councillor Mark Winnington said they were taking a "belt and braces" approach.
He said: "We have every confidence in our suppliers, however while this story continues to be in the news it seemed sensible to offer an alternative meal, where beef is not Farm Assured and sourced in the UK.
"As a council we are committed to promoting and using local produce as much as possible and are currently expanding a pilot scheme in schools where only meat from Staffordshire farms (is used) and this is being rolled out across the county.
"While there is absolutely no suggestion that there is any problem with any of the beef supplied we wanted to take a belt and braces approach, but expect beef to be back on the menu after half-term."
Earlier in the day German supermarket chain Real said it had found traces of horsemeat in frozen lasagne that it had pulled off the shelves last week as a precautionary measure. Other German supermarkets are also testing products.
A new Sky News poll has suggested one fifth of shoppers in the UK are changing what they buy as a result of the horsemeat scandal.
what do you think?
All the big boys have seen what Governments have done to the bankers who have ruined the world, nothing. They are all trying to see what they can get away with. People don't change, only technology.
I dont care how many burgers of how many grams I have to eat to be affected. I dont want to eat horse and I dont want to eat Bute.....
like it. when are you free
High peak meats is in darby .its red lion in nantwitch
Why why why do they keep side stepping the main issue. I'm not interested in whether there are potentially harmful drugs in horsemeat. I'm not interested in the fact that supermarkets have cleared their shelves of any sort of meat products. I'm not interested whether it's a European wide problem ad infinitem. What I am interested in is knowing that what is on the lable is what is in the product. If horsemeat OK but make sure it's horsemeat, if beef OK and make sure it's beef but for Gods sake tighten up. End of moan.
All this about horse meat when will they tackle the use of using human waste in food. Fed to pigs in countries like France
They also use it on crops over here nice smell in the summer .all is not what it seems out in the countryside
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You have to feel for our Foods Standards Agency. All this testing that food is safe and free from harmful drugs mularky, is distracting them from their (vital) work of distributing facile "eat heathly" leaflets which no-one reads and uses up acres of trees to produce. I'm told they now don't have time to fill-in their expenses forms. Note to the FSA, try reading your employers name on your payslips - FOOD STANDARDS AUTHORITY, as in maintaining standards, not ignoring standards.
Nothing new. The Irish were eating Shergar burgers for months.
a dont now about anybody els but a dont in tend on eatn mince ever again it makes me sik that theve gettn away with it for so long. i love horse but a dont want to eat one nd a dont think most of briton wants to eat horse fare enuf we eat cows. pig .horses or not bread for to be put in our burgers
It's all about greed and profits. We live in an economic system that encourages this kind of activity. Big business is a powerful political lobby, protected by powerful politicians. Get used to it.