Horsemeat imported from Canada has tested positive for the veterinary drug phenylbutazone in Switzerland.

The drug – also known as bute – was detected in one out of 30 samples during routine tests, food safety inspectors in Berne said on Friday (1 March). The product that tested positive was a horse entrecôte imported from Canada.

Phenylbutazone is not allowed in the food chain, and there is no official safe level for the drug in food products. Swiss officials stressed, however, that the concentration of bute found in the entrecôte – 1.7 micrograms per 1kg of meat – was very small and therefore unlikely to pose a risk to human health.

Unlike in the UK, the consumption of horsemeat is not considered taboo in Switzerland, although it is not eaten as widely as in Italy, France or Belgium. According to figures from the Swiss horse industry, Swiss consumers eat, on average, between 600g and 700g of horsemeat a year.