Two beef products adulterated with horsemeat have tested positive for the veterinary drug phenylbutazone (bute) in Greece.
According to alerts issued by the Greek authorities via the European Union’s Rapid Alert system, the products involved are a “cooked sausage with beef meat” made with raw material from Italy, which was found to contain between 3% and 7% horse DNA and 0.96 parts per billion of phenylbutazone, and “chilled cooked beef sausages”, also made with raw material from Italy, which tested positive for more than 50% horse DNA and contained 2.1 parts per billion phenylbutazone.
Greek food safety authority EFET said the products had been withdrawn from the market at the end of March.
Phenylbutazone is widely used to treat horses but is not allowed in the human food chain in any quantity.
The two Greek cases come after Portuguese authorities discovered bute in frozen beef burgers and meatballs made with meat from the Netherlands and Spain at the beginning of March, and the UK’s Food Standards Agency found bute in Asda Smart Price corned beef made in France. Bute was also found in the Czech Republic, where chilled horsemeat from Poland tested positive for bute and oxyphenylbutazone in mid-March.
In February, the FSA issued four alerts for bute, after it was found in chilled horsemeat from the UK sold to France and the Netherlands. It has since implemented a positive-release testing system for bute on horsemeat processed in the UK.
The EU Rapid Alert system has now logged nine reports of bute cases since the start of the year. In addition, an EU-wide survey completed in April listed 16 cases of bute found in equine carcases.
Outside the EU, Swiss authorities discovered bute in imported horsemeat from Canada at the beginning of March.