Bute found in Asda corned beef product

Supermarket chain said very low levels of veterinary drug detected in tins

British supermarket chain Asda is recalling all corned beef from its budget range after traces of veterinary drug phenylbutazone were found in some batches. Photograph: Barry Batchelor/PA

British supermarket chain Asda is recalling all corned beef from its budget range after traces of veterinary drug phenylbutazone were found in some batches. Photograph: Barry Batchelor/PA

Tue, Apr 9, 2013, 19:44

British supermarket chain Asda is recalling all corned beef from its budget range after traces of veterinary drug phenylbutazone were found in some batches.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) said “very low levels” of the painkilling medicine, known as bute, were detected in the Asda Smart Price Corned Beef.

Customers who have bought the 340g tins, with any date code, have been urged not to eat the corned beef but to return it to the supermarket.

Asda withdrew the product on March 8th after it was found to contain more than 1% horse DNA. Bute was detected in some samples, at the level of four parts per billion (4ppb), when further tests were carried out.

The corned beef is the only meat product in which bute has been found, according to the FSA.

Bute had been discovered in horse carcasses in February however, with the highest level found being 1900ppb. The FSA said no other Asda products are thought to be affected and that customers who bought the corned beef should contact the supermarket for a refund.

They said that while animals treated with bute should not enter the food chain, the risk of damage to the health of anyone who had eaten such meat is “very low”.

Chief Medical Officer Professor Dame Sally Davies previously said: “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.”

She said the levels of bute previously found in horse carcasses meant a person would have to eat up to 600 burgers, containing 100% horse meat, every day to come close to consuming a human’s daily dose of the drug.

Dame Sally added: “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.” Horse carcasses in the UK need to have a negative bute test before they can enter the food chain.

PA