Media 28: Has the BBC been asked to play down the dangers of phenylbutazone in horsemeat by politicians and corporates?

importers-exporters graphic2Are they bowing to the food industry – in particular those concerned with ‘important but risky’ imports and exports?

Today the BBC World Service completely failed to mention the possible presence of phenylbutazone in their 9am news bulletin.


Other BBC radio bulletins, though ready to recount other related matters at length, have been failing to raise the issue of ‘bute’ in horsemeat. Its website is more forthcoming – up to a point. The BBC’s Environment Correspondent, Matt McGrath reports that horsemeat in products withdrawn from various supermarkets is being tested for the veterinary drug bute (phenylbutazone) which was used as an anti-inflammatory medicine until it was banned. He appeared to downplay dangers by adding only that, “In rare cases it caused a serious blood disorder known as aplastic anaemia”.

However a Food and Chemical Toxicology abstract reports more serious consequences to those taking this drug, which was first marketed in the United States for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and gout in 1952:

“Serious and often fatal adverse effects such as aplastic anemia and agranulocytosis appeared in the literature within three years of its use (reports cited). The serious adverse effects of PBZ culminated in its unavailability for human use in the United States. Because of the bone marrow toxicity caused by PBZ in humans, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has set no safe levels of PBZ in animals intended for food and bans the administration of this drug in any horse sent to slaughter for human consumption ( – link no longer active).

McGrath also reports that the UK’s Veterinary Residues Committee (VMD) warned last year that 8,000 horses a year due to be exported to other countries for food were not being thoroughly tested, and small but noticeable amounts of bute were getting through. They were indeed, here:

“The Veterinary Residues Committee (an independent scientific advisory committee that advises the Government) has repeatedly expressed concern over residues of phenylbutazone entering the food chain. This is because this substance has the potential for serious adverse effects in consumers, such as blood discrasia (a rare but very serious, life-threatening, condition)”.

Let the whole truth be told about ‘important but risky’ imports.



Posted on February 9, 2013, in Conflict of interest, Corporate political nexus, Secret State, Vested interests and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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