Horse painkiller bute found in Asda ‘Smart Price’ corned beef after tins were recalled from the shelves
- Food Standards Agency found veterinary painkilling drug phenylbutazone
- Asda removed the £1.54 tins from stores across Britain last month
- Tins had been found to contain up to 50 per cent horsemeat
By LEON WATSON
Food Standards Agency investigation found phenylbutazone – or bute – in this Asda product
The veterinary painkilling drug phenylbutazone – or bute – has been found in Asda Smart Price Corned Beef, the Food Standards Agency has said.
Asda had already withdrawn tens of thousands of its own brand corned beef last month after it was found to contain up to 50 per cent horsemeat.
The supermarket giant removed the £1.54 products from stores across Britain on March 8 – and tests this week showed quantities of horse DNA above trace levels.
Leicestershire County Council found the ingredients of one batch of the 340g tins were half horse, but Leeds-based Asda has insisted it only found levels of up to five per cent.
Asda, which last month said it had carried out more than 700 tests on products during the horsemeat scandal, has had eight products that have been positive for at least traces of horse.
A spokesman for Asda said the chain has ‘taken a belt and braces approach’ to testing for horse DNA and quickly removed any products from its shelves ‘whenever we’ve had any concerns’.
Andrew Rhodes, director of operations at the Food Standards Agency, acknowledged it takes time to test for bute once horsemeat is found in a product.
Speaking on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme, he said: ‘What we have found in this positive test result is a very low level of (bute)… which is only really just above the limit of detection.
‘It’s very unlikely to (do harm). As the chief medical officer has said… it’s extremely rare people have an adverse reaction to phenylbutazone.
‘This is considerably lower than a therapeutic dose and you would have to consume enormous quantities of meat, way more than anyone could physically consume, to get near a therapeutic dose.’
Mr Rhodes said it was important to understand how the product came to be contaminated and how it came to have bute in it.
‘If someone has done something which is illegal, and not taken due measures to prevent that happening, then they can face sanctions,’ he said.
‘But we need to determine exactly what has happened in this case before we can determine whether that will happen or not – which is true of any of the cases we have seen.’
Supermarket: The Walmart-owned chain with 500-plus stores, whose Smart Price Corned Beef is manufactured by French supplier Toupnot, has also scraped its Chosen By You Corned Beef line (file picture)
The Walmart-owned chain with 500-plus stores, whose Smart Price Corned Beef is manufactured by French supplier Toupnot, has also scraped its Chosen By You Corned Beef line.
Europe’s horsemeat scandal erupted in January, when testing in Ireland revealed that some beef products also contained equine DNA, and the problems then spread across the continent.
The scandal ensnared numerous well-known brands, prompting product withdrawals, consumer concerns and government investigations into the region’s complex food-processing chains.
City of London Police fraud experts will lead the probe into the horsemeat scandal, co-ordinating the response to what ministers have claimed is an international criminal conspiracy.
In the Commons last month, Environment Secretary Owen Paterson described the adulteration of food products with horsemeat as a ‘criminal conspiracy which covers 23 countries’.
Ade McKeon, Asda’s director responsible for the quality of all the store’s branded products, said: ‘I know our customers will be just as concerned about this news as we are. Even at such a low level, it is totally unacceptable.
‘I can reassure our customers that we are working closely with the FSA and our suppliers to deliver a wide ranging and rigorous programme of testing, to be sure that the products we sell are exactly what it says on the label.’
‘If someone has done something which is illegal, and not taken due measures to prevent that happening, then they can face sanctions’
Andrew Rhodes, director of operations at the Food Standards Agency
An Asda spokesman said: ‘We have taken an extremely cautious approach since the very beginning and have carried out more than 700 tests, moving swiftly to remove any products from our shelves whenever we’ve had the smallest concerns.
‘Our commitment to you is to continue to test our products regularly and update you with the very latest news as soon as we can.
‘In March 2013 we withdrew tinned Smart Price Corned Beef (340g) after receiving a positive test for horse DNA above the one per cent trace level set by the Food Standards Agency (FSA).
‘Today, 9th April 9, tests on further batches have shown a positive result for very low levels of horse medication called phenylbutazone, also known as bute, at four parts per billion.
‘The FSA has reassured us that the quantities we’ve found pose a low risk to human health. They say: “Bute is not allowed to enter the food chain; however, even if people have eaten products which contain contaminated horse meat, the risk to health is very low.”
‘Although there is a very low health risk, we are recalling this product. This simply means that we ask anyone who has tinned Smart Price Corned Beef (340g) in their cupboards at home to bring it back into store for a full refund.
‘The tinned Chosen By You Corned Beef (340g) product, also withdrawn in March, has not tested positive for phenylbutazone. However as a precaution it is also being recalled as it is made in the same factory.
‘We want you to have complete confidence in the food you buy at Asda and we are happy to refund any product you’re not 100 per cent happy with.’
A spokesman for the FSA said: ‘The Food Standards Agency has been informed by Asda that very low levels of the veterinary medicine phenylbutazone, known as bute, have been found in 340g tins of its Smart Price Corned Beef.
Source Daily mail By LEON WATSON