Drug bute found in British beef

April 10, 2013 at 12:06 PM
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LONDON, April 10 (UPI) -- A British supermarket chain owned by Walmart said it had recalled corned beef that was found to have traces of a veterinary medicine meant for horses.

The New York Times reported Wednesday the chain Asda said it had recalled Smart Price Corned Beef in which traces of phenylbutazone had been discovered. The drug is banned from consumer consumption, the Times said.

"Asda is recalling this product and anyone who has Asda Smart Price Corned Beef should not eat it," the store said in a website posting.

The store said it had recalled the tainted beef in March. The beef product had traces of horse meat that was revealed in lab tests to have very low amounts of the drug, which is more commonly known as bute.

Asda also said it was recalling a second beef product that was found to contain horse meat. Although no traces of bute had been found in the second product, it was being recalled as a precautionary step, the company said.

"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, 100 percent horse meat 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," said Professor Dame Sally Davies, the chief medical officer for England.

"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," she said.

However, Labour Party spokeswoman Mary Creagh said the incident "exposes the weaknesses in the government's handling of the horse meat scandal where products were withdrawn but in some cases not tested."

The products were taken off of store shelves March 8, but only formally recalled now, the Times reported.

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