Results of EU Horsemeat Study Released

EU officials tested beef products for the presence of horsemeat and horse carcasses for the presence of Bute.

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European Union (EU) officials found horsemeat in 5% of beef prepared food products sampled in all 27 member countries, according to an EU statement. Meanwhile testing for phenylbutazone (Bute) in horse carcasses showed little cause for alarm, EU officials reported.

“(Our) findings have confirmed that this is a matter of food fraud and not of food safety,” said Tonio Borg, EU commissioner for health and consumers.

The EU carried out 4,144 tests for the presence of horse DNA in beef products with a varying number of tests in each member country, depending on its size and “consumption habits,” the EU reported its website. Germany had the highest number of tests with 878; 29 (3.3%) of these tests were positive for horsemeat. Greece had 36 positive results (12.5%) out of 288 samples, and France had 47 (13.3%) out of 353. Only the UK, Ireland, the Republic of Malta, the Slovak Republic, and Belgium were confirmed to have no horse DNA in their sampled beef products.

Meanwhile, 3,115 horse carcasses in all 27 member countries were tested for phenylbutazone, and only 0.5% of carcasses tested were positive for Bute. The UK and Ireland tested the most samples—836 and 840, respectively—because these countries now require that all slaughtered horses be analyzed for the presence of Bute. The UK had the highest percentage of bute-tainted carcasses with 14 carcasses (1.7%). The Czech Republic and Ireland each had only one positive carcass, and all 24 other member countries were negative for Bute in slaughtered horses

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Passionate about horses and science from the time she was riding her first Shetland Pony in Texas, Christa Lesté-Lasserre writes about scientific research that contributes to a better understanding of all equids. After undergrad studies in science, journalism, and literature, she received a master’s degree in creative writing. Now based in France, she aims to present the most fascinating aspect of equine science: the story it creates. Follow Lesté-Lasserre on Twitter @christalestelas.

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