Horse News

What’s in Your Horse Burger? Chemicals That Pose Serious Health Risks

From Newsweek

It’s not just because they’re pretty. Their meat poses serious health risks.
Vickery Eckhoff  in Newsweek.
Toxic Burgers Enter Human Food ChainThe French take few tips from the British, but French Agriculture Minister Stéphane Le Foll made an exception recently when addressing reporters at the Paris farm show.

“One would have to eat 500 horse burgers every day in order to run a risk,” Le Foll stated. He borrowed the line from U.K. Chief Medical Officer Dame Sally Davies, who used it just weeks ago to downplay the hazards of eating horse meat adulterated with phenylbutazone during what has turned out to be a massive international food scandal with people in the U.K. being unwittingly subjected to equine flesh.

Otherwise known as “bute,” the drug is a potent equine painkiller that’s prohibited in horse meat produced by EU trading partners, including the U.S., where 95-100 percent of horses are estimated to be “buted.”Although European government ministers claim that the horse-meat debacle is nothing more than a labeling issue, bute poses serious health hazards, according to a growing list of veterinarians as well as the authors of “Association of Phenylbutazone Usage With Horses Bought for Slaughter: A Public-Health Risk.

”Published in Food and Chemical Toxicology, the research study states that the health hazards associated with bute in horse meat aren’t dose related.
According to the study, bute causes bone-marrow depression like aplastic anemia, agranulocytosis, thrombocytopenia, leucopenia, pancytopenia, and hemolytic anemia, which are fatal in the vast majority of cases. The elderly are more susceptible than younger adults. The risks for developing bone-marrow depression and other serious effects are heightened because humans metabolize bute into oxyphenbutazone, which also causes bone-marrow depression.

The study also demonstrates that children are at increased risk of developing aplastic anemia from minute levels of bute and oxyphenbutazone in horse meat, presumably because their bones are still growing. But even very low levels of bute can result in a hypersensitivity reaction in susceptible adults that’s mostly fatal. All of these effects are considered to be idiosyncratic, meaning it is unknown who will be afflicted…(CONTINUED)

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18 replies »

  1. Vickery….you go girl!

    Be wary of the “downplaying”!!!!!!!

    It is by it’s very nature a distraction that actually acknowledges that food, in this case equine meat is NOT a qualified food source for humans because of it’s precise nonproduction food status.

    Scandalous that public officials and industry are speaking such terrifying manure….literally.

    BTW, if horsemeat ain’t a danger or a big deal….exactly what is going on in our entire food system????


    • Technically, China is the largest equine slaughterer. I am reasonably confident that large equine slaughter countries (to a point) don’t use drugs like industrial nations. China also still uses cows, oxen and equines as prime movers for their transportation and agriculture.

      The “let them kill their own equines” is reasonable but not reality.

      In a global economy ALL equine purveyors must guarantee production, health and anticruelty standards.

      In the meantime ….no HORSEMEAT! And nations better get ready to euth and dispose while politicians piddle with time and morality.


  2. Vickery Eckhoff has really done amazing investigation and reporting.
    She is OUTSTANDING! Thank you, Vickery!


  3. Excellent composition Vickery. Going to the article to comment, if possible. It is dumbfounding to consider that any risk is okay – like putting a needle in a cupcake.

    Demand the federal ban on transport of American horses across the border AND federal ban of horse slaughter in the United States.


  4. This article by Vickery Eckhoff is outstanding. I am going to copy it and hand it out to everyone I know. I’ll start with 100 copies. It should be handed out at the meeting and rally in Oklahoma this week. This has more power than anything else I’ve seen. I’ll even send a copy to the White House and the USDA.


  5. It is time to stop the abuse on our horses across the world. Treat all horses and animals with respect and love. It is time to stop the horror and killing of so many innocent animals. Say no to horse slaughter anywhere. say no to wild horse round ups, say no to horse transport. Never, never give into horse slaughter, never.


  6. I did see an article yesterday saying that it was okay to eat 500/600 horse burgers. My comment to that was someone needed to do a major fix on the article! There is no safe exposure to Bute!

    Vickery I lay my hat at your feet for an absolutely outstanding piece of journalism! True and extremely well researched. Facts. You just don’t see this kind of writing very often. What a total pleasure it was to read this!


  7. We have been commenting on your wonderful article for 4 days over at is interesting to note..less dissenters than is normal..but dissenters give us a chance to hone our responses and convince those many who read but donot comment


  8. I can only add my sincere thank you for such a job well done. If Bute does not effect the animals including human beings, why does the liability statement appear on all the medications that are administered to our horses and other equines? I hope people are not fooled into thinking this meat is healthy and OK. Would those supporters eat the meat? No, they would see it fed to other innocent men, women and children. These foreigners need to get out of our country and raise their own horses for slaughter if thats what they want. We are not a third world country, but supposed to be advanced in all avenues. I am concerned about the poor people who might have consumed the meat, but it also proves a point that we are much too trusting and nieve about our food sources. It almost makes you think each time you consume a product that you have not grown. We need again demand that our Legislators pass the slaughter and transportation bill once and for all!


    • Something to think about is that most people do not know that vets caution against using bute for long periods of application due to the toxic effect on the horse leading to failure of the blood system. TRUE. I have made some headway discussing the issue of just bute by mentioning this and received many shocked answers. So many people think bute is like aspirin – far from it. It is a dangerous and lethal medication if used indiscriminately and past a calculated time based on dose and frequency of dose. You can kill your horse with bute. And yes, demand the federal laws be passed now.


  9. It’s ironic that in China they do not allow dogs to be vaccinated for rabbies because they recognize that the vaccine makes the meat toxic. Although I did just read an article that people are dying from rabbies because they are eating dogs with rabbies. But in this country it is ok to export tanted toxic horse meat? I just do not understand how or why the FDA or congress would let this happen, if you are so sick and heartless that you can not see the brutal inhuman nature of horse slaughter surely you can see that these intelligent animals are not raised for food and they will be selling tanted toxic meat!


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