Dame Sally Davies says that there is nothing to suggest a safety risk to humans who have eaten horse meat containing bute, but acknowledges that the chemical does present a minor health risk. She says it is right that bute is banned from the UK food chain. Her full statement can be found here.
In light of the horse meat scandal, Neil Parish MP (Con, Tiverton and Honiton) today asked for a Commons debate on the labelling of processed food, saying current labels were not clear enough about the product's origins.
Kerry McCarthy (Lab, Bristol East) today asked whether the Taunton horse meat scandal was just the tip of the iceberg as far as food origins were concerned. The painkiller bute has been found in horse meat slaughtered in Taunton and then exported for possible consumption in France.
The Agriculture Minister David Heath MP (Lib Dem, Somerton and Frome) agreed that more needed to be done by food processing companies and retailers across Europe to check exactly where their ingredients had come from.
Horse meat which contained the painkiller bute came from a slaughterhouse in Taunton. The meat was then exported to France, where it may have entered the food chain.
Food standards agents tested 206 carcasses, and found bute in 8 of them. 6 were slaughtered at LJ Potter Partners at Stillman’s (Somerset) Ltd, Taunton and exported to France before the test results were known. A quicker, 48-hour test has now been introduced.
The health risk from eating low levels of bute is low, but it is illegal in food products, and this incident raises questions about how much bute was in the Romanian horse meat that has illegally entered the UK food chain.