Asda has recalled a corned beef product after small traces of a painkilling drug known as 'bute' were detected.
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The Food Standards Agency has said it will continue testing products "until there's nothing left to find" after the veterinary painkilling drug phenylbutazone - or bute - was found in Asda Smart Price Corned Beef.
The agency's director of operations Andrew Rhodes said customers should not eat the corned beef but added anyone who does is very unlikely to fall ill.
He advised customers to return the product to the supermarket to receive a full refund.
– Shadow environment secretary Mary Creagh
It is deeply worrying that bute, a drug banned from the human food chain, has been discovered in one brand of corned beef.
This product was withdrawn from sale on March 8 yet has only been formally recalled now, after testing positive for bute, meaning people could have unwittingly been eating meat containing this drug for the last month.
This exposes the weaknesses in the Government's handling of the horsemeat scandal where products were withdrawn but in some cases not tested either for horsemeat or bute. The interests of the consumer should have been put first.
Asda said its announcement that traces of 'bute' have been found in one of its products is part of its commitment to keep customers up-to-date on its product testing regime.
The supermarket says its has carried out "more than 700" tests since news of the horsemeat scandal broke. A statement released today said:
– asda statement
In March 2013 we withdrew tinned Smart Price Corned Beef (340g) after receiving a positive test for horse DNA above the 1% trace level set by the Food Standards Agency.
Today ... tests on further batches have shown a positive result for very low levels of horse medication called phenylbutazone, also known as bute, at 4 parts per billion.
The FSA has reassured us that the quantities we’ve found pose a low risk to human health ...
– FSA spokesperson
Consumers have a right to expect that food is exactly what it says on the label.
While bute presents very low risk to human health, the Food Standards Agency is investigating this specific horsemeat contamination case and will take action as necessary.
These are the facts that are known about the traces of 'bute' found in an Asda product:
- Traces found in 340g tins of Asda Smart Price Corned Beef
- Amount of bute found is very small - around four parts per billion
- Customers urged not to eat the product and to return it for a full refund in store
- Even if people have eaten the product, the health risk is "very low"
- The product was withdrawn from shelves on March 8th after testing positive for horse DNA over 1%. It was then tested for 'bute' in line with FSA guidelines.
- Asda has withdrawn all corned beef products from its Smart Price range.
Chief Medical Officer Professor Dame Sally Davies has previously said that 'bute' poses only a very low risk to humans. She said:
– Professor Dame Sally Davies, chief medical officer
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.