All British slaughter horses to undergo bute testing

| 12 February 2013 8:47 am


All horses slaughtered in Britain for human consumption must now undergo testing for the common anti-inflammatory drug, Phenylbutazone.

Phenylbutazone, or bute, is banned from entering the human food chain because it can cause rare but serious adverse effects in humans, such as blood discrasia.

A zero limit for bute has been set for slaughter horses because scientists do not know the precise mechanism by which the drug can trigger these problems in humans.

Without that knowledge, scientists cannot be sure whether the tiniest exposure through eating tainted meat can trigger the disease, or whether longer or more significant exposure is required.

However, most scientists agree that the risk is low.

Britain’s Food Standards Agency today announced a new system for horses slaughtered in Britain. Each horse carcass will require a negative phenylbutazone test before it is allowed to enter the food chain.

The agency has developed a testing regime which enables results to come through about 48 hours after the test is carried out.

Each carcass will be kept in storage by individual food businesses, pending the result. If the test result is negative, the horse will be released into the food chain. However, if the horse tests positive for bute it will be disposed of as animal by-product under the authority of the agency.

The agency has been testing for bute in all horses slaughtered in Britain that are meant for human consumption since January 30. Horses that have been treated with bute are not allowed to enter the food chain.

In 2012, samples taken by the agency identified nine cases where horses tested positive for bute. None of the meat was placed for sale on the UK market. Where the meat had been exported to other countries, the relevant food safety authorities were informed.

Currently in Britain, any horse being sold for its meat and destined for the food chain must be slaughtered in one of five slaughterhouses specifically approved by the agency. About 9000 horses were slaughtered for this purpose in 2012, with the bulk of of the meat destined for markets in Europe.



Category: News

About the Author ()

Daily horse news and information - only on! Got a story lead? Email

Comments (7)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Jordan says:

    I’m not entirely sure why they can’t test the horses BEFORE they’re euthanized. While I’m not against eating horse meat (after all, if I was I’d have to be against consuming cows, chickens and pigs too), but it seems to me like there’s a lot of needless suffering and slaughter going on here in particular.

    • Theresa Nolet says:

      They do not test them before being killed because they only want the horse gone, the industry is not really interested in the welfare of the horse only the welfare of their wallet, why do you think this scandal started in the first place.

    • DianaB says:

      You can test the live horse for a level of bute in the blood or urine. For zero tolerance food safety you need to test kidney tissue.

  2. Marie Dean says:

    “Carcass” means they are dead before they test – why not save the lives of the horses that should not be slaughtered. This just goes to show again the slaughter of horses is just a disposal system for each country not a food system. This is just as wrong as doing nothing! Leave the horses alone and find something else to eat – definitely no horse welfare anywhere!!

  3. Laura S. Riggs says:

    Get horses out of the human food chain, then bute won’t be a problem.

    • rachel parker says:

      horse slaughter should be banned everywhere the way they kill them in some countries is so inhumane there’s enough meat without killing them. LEAVE THEM ALONE!

  4. LynnIL says:

    I don’t understand why this is even needed. Don’t they have a EU Passport System that is suppose to stop any horse that has had banned drug from even going to slaughter. Proves system is flawed and no one should be eating horse meat PERIOD.

Pin It on Pinterest