Bute-Enriched Horse Meat

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Bute-Enriched Horse Meat

From Patrick Battuello, In Behalf of Animals
August 2012

Recently, Europeans have grown increasingly concerned about the safety of American-sourced horse meat being shipped to their continent from Canada. Here are the relevant facts:

American racehorses are sent to slaughter in Canada for the express purpose of human consumption by the tens of thousands per year.

American racehorses, practically all of them, receive phenylbutazone (PBZ, bute), an anti-inflammatory, as a matter of routine.

PBZ has a laundry list of grave, if not potentially fatal, effects in humans: According to an FDA newsletter from 2003, “Phenylbutazone is known to induce blood dyscrasias, including aplastic anemia, leukopenia, agranulocytosis, thrombocytopenia and deaths. In addition, phenylbutazone is a carcinogen, as determined by the National Toxicology Program.”

PBZ does not have a safe withdrawl period like some other drugs administered to food-producing animals. Dr. Ann Marini, author of a 2010 Food and Chemical Toxicology medical paper on the subject, says (Horseback, 2/8/12) that “if a horse is administered one dose of phenylbutazone, the horse cannot enter the food chain.” Ever. Accordingly, PBZ (and a host of other drugs commonly given to racehorses) is banned for use in food-producing animals in the US, UK, EU, and Canada. In short, Dr. Marini says (Toronto Star, 7/30/11), “there’s no horse in (the U.S.) that is eligible for slaughter for human use.” Not one.

Armed with the preceding information on bute (the harm to humans, the lack of a safe residue level, the multinational bans), which has been known for years, how is it, then, that owners could (can) continue to send their bute-laced horses to slaughter?

Since relatively few sell their horses directly to processing plants, once delivered to dealers or auctions, the owner may feel absolved, that his hands are clean. I do not, he will say, intend for my horse to be slaughtered for meat.

A thinking person should see this as the vacuous nonsense that it is, for, as a rule, dealers and auction houses trade in flesh. Truth be told, racehorse owners who would sentence their former pets and champions to abattoir hell are not likely to be overly concerned about a Frenchman’s dinner. Horseracing’s moral bankruptcy on full display, yet again.

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