Most you will be aware of the recent scandal concerning the presence of horse meat in some “beef” food products. There are no health risks associated with eating horse meat in its own right; however it has become apparent that some samples of horse meat are testing positive for phenylbutazone aka ‘bute’. This drug can cause illness in humans so any horse which receives phenylbutazone (or a number of other drugs) MUST be excluded from the human food chain by law.
The Scarsdale Veterinary Group has always been committed to the passport regulations and many of you will have signed the relevant parts of your horse’s passport. We urge all our clients to ensure that if their horse has ever received phenylbutazone, or are prescribed or administered phenylbutazone, those horses are signed out of the human food chain. This can be done by locating the page horse’s passport in Section IX or the Medicine page where there is a declaration saying that this horse is “not intended for human consumption” and sign that declaration and date it. You can also choose to sign your horse out of the human food chain regardless of what medication it has received.
We do encourage our clients to sign their horses out of the food chain anyway, as this removes the need for complicated recording requirements and means that we can freely prescribe whatever medication we feel is necessary. Once you have signed this declaration it can never be changed. We would then ask that you ensure that your vet sees your horse’s passport at their next visit so that this status can be updated on our computer records.
There is, and has been for some time, pressure from certain European countries to ban totally the use of phenylbutazone in horses and if food agencies continue to find horse meat containing traces of phenylbutazone there is a very real risk that we will lose the right to prescribe this extremely useful and valuable medicine. It is essential that the horse owning community behaves responsibly with the use of this drug so that we can continue to use it. This is why we re-examine horses on long term medication and do not dispense ‘a box of bute’ for use when needed. We are trying to protect the long term access to the drug. The drug contained in ‘Danilon’ is also covered by these regulations. The alternatives are much more expensive, often prohibitively so, for long term use.
Some older passports do not contain these pages. If your horse’s passport does not contain the page containing a declaration concerning human consumption it should be returned to the Passport Issuing Organisation (PIO) that issued it so that these pages can be entered. While you may have the very best intentions of never allowing your horse to enter the human food chain, unfortunately less scrupulous buyers, agents and dealers have no qualms whatsoever about deceiving loving owners and selling horses off for slaughter for human consumption. Please do not be complacent about this issue.
If you have any questions please ask your veterinary surgeon on their next visit or phone the practice on 01332 294929 and ask to speak to one of our vets. Please can all owners remember to bring their passports to all visits, not just vaccinations and when your horse comes to the practice. Passports should be kept with the horse.