Eight horses slaughtered in the UK have tested positive for the veterinary painkiller bute, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) has confirmed.

Six of the animals were slaughtered by LJ Potter Partners at Stillman’s (Somerset) Ltd, in Taunton and sent to France where they may have entered the food chain.

The remaining two did not leave the slaughterhouse – High Peak Meat Exports Ltd, in Nantwich, Cheshire – and were disposed of “in accordance with EU rules”.

The FSA said it was gathering information on the six carcasses sent to France and working with the French authorities in an attempt to recall the meat from the food chain.

A total of 206 carcasses in the UK were tested between 30 January and 7 February. The testing was under way before horsemeat was discovered in beef products, including value burgers, ready meals, lasagne, and spaghetti bolognese.

“It’s understandable people will be concerned, but it is important to emphasise that, even if bute is found to be present at low levels, there is a very low risk indeed that it would cause any harm to health.”
Chief medical officer Sally Evans

Chief medical officer Sally Evans, said the trace levels of anti-inflammatory drug phenylbutazone – known as bute – detected posed a low risk to human health.

She added: “It’s understandable people will be concerned, but it is important to emphasise that, even if bute is found to be present at low levels, there is a very low risk indeed that it would cause any harm to health.”

Farm minister David Heath told the Commons that the results of bute testing on the withdrawn Findus products have come back negative.

The FSA was on course to provide “meaningful results” of DNA testing of beef products by tomorrow (Friday 15 February), he added.

Elsewhere, Staffordshire County Council has announced that beef products have been removed from school menus in the county as a precaution.

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