Phenylbutazone detected in corned beef product

Corned beef.
Corned beef. (file image) © BrokenSphere / Wikimedia Commons

A corned beef product stocked by the Asda supermarket chain in Britain has been recalled following the discovery of low levels of the common anti-inflammatory horse drug, phenylbutazone.

Phenylbutazone is banned from entering the human food chain.

Asda said it had recalled all batch codes of its “Smart Price: Corned Beef” because of the discovery.

People who had bought the product were urged not to eat it.

Asda previously withdrew the product on March 8 after horse DNA was found in the product.

Following further sampling and testing, very low levels of bute have been found in some of the samples, it said.

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 what level of exposure could trigger disease, or whether longer or more significant exposure is required.

Meanwhile, Britain’s Food Standards Agency has confirmed results for four of the remaining five samples relating to its UK-wide sampling programme of beef products. All five of the products were withdrawn from sale following receipt of the first test results.

Two of the four samples have been found to contain horse DNA at or above the 1 per cent threshold for reporting. Neither was found to contain phenylbutazone or pig DNA. They were:

  • A burger purchased from Nefyn Pizza & Kebab House in Gwynedd and manufactured by the Burger Manufacturing Company (BMC)
  • A beef burger purchased from Pig Out in Walsall and manufactured by King Fry Meat Products Ltd.

The two other samples did not contain horse DNA.

Separately, on March 26, the agency advised that a Whitbread burger had tested positive for horse DNA above 1 per cent. The agency said it had now received further test results that confirmed the level of DNA to be under the reporting threshold.

The scandal around the discovery of horse meat in processed beef products has spread across more than a dozen European nations and has resulted in the withdrawal of tens of millions of processed beef meals from supermarket shelves.

The scandal has highlighted the complexity of the food chain and revealed just how potentially vulnerable it is to rogue traders.

Latest research and information from the horse world.

One thought on “Phenylbutazone detected in corned beef product

  • April 10, 2013 at 2:09 pm

    Not at all surprizing when some 90% of North American horses shipped for slaughter have been given bute in their life time. The CHDC has proven this but their results have been totally ignored by big ag business and the government officials in charge. No one gives a damn for the customers that consume this contaminated meat as long as a profit is made.


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