Most of our clients will be aware of the recent ongoing scandal concerning the presence of horse meat in prepared “beef” food products. Some will be particularly disturbed at the prospect of eating horse meat while others will be unconcerned -that is a personal matter. Whilst there are no health risks associated with eating horse meat per se, it has become apparent that some samples of horse meat are testing positive for phenylbutazone, a drug which can cause illness in humans. Under the Passport Regulations 2009, any horse which receives phenylbutazone MUST be excluded from the human food chain.
Rossdales urges all our clients to ensure that if their horse or horses has or have ever received phenylbutazone, or are prescribed or administered phenylbutazone, those horses are signed out of the human food chain. The way to do this is to find the page in your 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 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.
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 01638 663150 and ask to speak to one of our vets.
Deidre Carson MRCVS