Phenylbutazone found in U.K. beef product

Low levels of a veterinary anti-inflammatory drug have been found in a beef product in the United Kingdom (U.K.), according to media reports.

The findings come as species identification testing continues in the U.K. in the wake of the discovery of horse and pig DNA in beef products. Phenylbutazone, or bute, often is used to treat pain in horses. Animals that have been treated with bute are not permitted to enter the food chain.

This is the first positive result since the U.K.’s Food Standards Agency (FSA) implemented increased monitoring. All horse meat destined for human consumption must undergo testing for the drug. Horse meat must test negative for bute before being allowed to enter the food chain.

The product contained 4 parts per billion (ppb) of bute. Previously, the U.K.’s Department of Health Chief Medical Officer Dame Sally Davies said bute posed a “very low risk to human health”.

“At the levels of bute that have been found, a person would have to eat 500 to 600 burgers a day that are 100% horse meat to get close to consuming a human’s daily dose,” Davies said in a statement previously. “And it passes through the system fairly quickly, so it is unlikely to build up in our bodies.”

In January, routine testing uncovered horse and swine DNA in beef products. The discovery was the result of a probe into meat authenticity in Ireland. Of the 27 beef burgers tested, 10 contained horse DNA and 23 contained pig DNA. Since then, the FSA and industry have implemented a sweeping species identification testing program along with additional monitoring for bute.

For more on this story from Neogen’s blog, click here.

For information on Neogen’s phenylbutazone test kits, click here.

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