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— British food safety officials say six horse carcasses that tested positive for the equine drug bute may have entered the human food chain in France.

The Food Standards Agency says eight out of 206 horses it checked tested positive for bute, an equine painkiller and anti-inflammatory. It said of those eight, six — all slaughtered by a firm in southwest England — were sent to France and “may have entered the food chain.”

The agency is working with French authorities to trace the meat.

Earlier Thursday, Environment Minister David Heath told the House of Commons three horses might have entered the food chain. The reason for the discrepancy was not immediately clear.

Horsemeat itself is not dangerous to eat. But bute, or phenylbutazone, is considered harmful to human health.

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  • Poneh74
    February 14, 2013 at 12:48 p.m.

    There is no "may have". Bute (aka Phenylbutazone/Butazone) is for CERTAIN within the human food chain so long as horse meat is being ingested. Opponents of the horse slaughter industry have been trying to raise this concern for YEARS (and it is not only bute- there are several other drugs/fly sprays/etc. that pose health risks to humans if ingested. Please feel free to Google search this for your own awareness since we are not allowed to share links here!).

    We do not raise horses as livestock for human consumption, we raise them as athletes and as pets. At some point in their lives, EACH of those horses were loved and cared for- and likely given bute (or similar drugs) to ease some sort of pain/discomfort. At the very least, they have been sprayed with fly spray- which is also HIGHLY dangerous for humans. American horses, which find themselves at auction (for numerous reasons, NOT just because they are old or sick!), are then caught within the slaughter pipeline thanks to kill buyers who then ship them to slaughterhouses in Mexico or Canada...then the meat shipped off to Europe. Who is truly foolish enough to believe only "drug free" horses are being sold and killed?