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Bute Found in Asda Corned Beef

10 April 2013

UK - The British supermarket chain Asda is recalling tins of Smart Price Corned Beef after tests found low levels of the veterinary medicine phenylbutazone, known as bute, which is used fpor treating horses.

Animals treated with bute should not enter the food chain as the drug may pose a risk to human health.

However, the Food Standards Agency said that even if people have eaten products, which contain contaminated horse meat, the risk of damage to health is very low.

This product was tested by Asda as part of the industry testing programme and found to be positive for horse DNA above one per cent. It was withdrawn from Asda’s shelves on 8 March 2013. As with all products that have tested positive for horse DNA over one per cent it was tested for bute, as required by the FSA. This product has been found to contain very low levels of bute (four parts per billion – 4ppb) and is the only meat product where bute has been found.

However, bute has previously been found in horse carcasses. The level of bute found in this product is considerably lower than the highest levels found in carcases (the highest level found was 1900ppb).

Chief Medical Officer Professor Dame Sally Davies previously said: 'Horse meat containing phenylbutazone presents a very low risk to human health.

"Phenylbutazone, known as bute, is a commonly used medicine in horses. It is also prescribed to some patients who are suffering from a severe form of arthritis. The levels of bute that have previously been found in horse carcasses mean that a person would have to eat 500 - 600 one hundred per cent horsemeat burgers a day to get close to consuming a human's daily dose. And it passes through the system fairly quickly, so it is unlikely to build up in our bodies," she said.

"In patients who have been taking phenylbutazone as a medicine there can be serious side effects but these are rare. It is extremely unlikely that anyone who has eaten horse meat containing bute will experience one of these side effects."

A statement from Asda said: "Although there is a very low health risk, we are recalling this product. This simply means that we ask anyone who has tinned Smart Price Corned Beef (340g) in their cupboards at home to bring it back into store for a full refund.

"The tinned Chosen By You Corned Beef (340g) product, also withdrawn in March, has not tested positive for phenylbutazone. However as a precaution it is also being recalled as it is made in the same factory."

Since the horse meat investigation began in January 2013, this is the first product that has tested positive for bute. Further information about products that have tested positive for horse DNA above 1% and have been tested for bute can be found on the consumer advice page, which can be accessed via the link on the right.

In the UK horse carcasses must have a negative bute test before they are allowed to enter the food chain.

Further Reading

- Go to our previous news item on this story by clicking here.
The FSA is continuing to investigate this issue.

TheMeatSite News Desk

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