Horse News

Phenylbutazone in Horsemeat Detected by Thermo Fisher Scientific test

Source: Press Release from Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc

“Phenylbutazone is considered to be one of the most toxic non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs

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Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc., the world leader in serving science, recently mobilized its Food Safety Response Center (FSRC) to develop a method to test for the presence of the veterinary drug phenylbutazone in horsemeat. Phenylbutazone, also known as “bute,” is a potent painkiller banned in any horsemeat intended for human consumption. Although horsemeat is not approved for human consumption in the U.S, it is commonly sold and consumed in many countries worldwide.

The new Thermo Fisher method overcomes previous challenges of testing horsemeat by using a simple two-step solid-phase extraction (SPE) cleanup protocol that is significantly faster than the manual liquid-liquid extraction procedures required by other methods. The method has been validated by Thermo Fisher FSRC scientists according to guidelines set by the EU, AOAC International and the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry.

“We activate the Food Safety Response Center when risk of a foodborne illness is widespread and potentially life-threatening,” said Michal Godula, Ph.D., marketing manager, food safety and environmental applications for Thermo Fisher Scientific. “Lost in discussions of mislabeling and fraud is the fact that some horsemeat may contain chemicals that are toxic to humans, and our response, in the form of a new testing method, can rapidly detect ‘bute’ and help protect the food supply.”

In 2007, the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service stated that “phenylbutazone is considered to be one of the most toxic non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. It is not approved for use in food animals and there are no regulatory limits, such as acceptable daily intake or safe concentration for meat, established by the Food and Drug Administration. Therefore, the presence of any amount of phenylbutazone in food animal tissue will be considered a violation and likely to be unsafe for human consumption.”

For more information about the new method:

28 replies »

      • What really needs to be done, &, done ASAP, is a reliable test that can be done on the live horse, not after it’s already been slaughtered & butchered! If it’s tested positive, then it could not be killed for consumption. It’s a shame & a disgrace that this world has gotten to this state. Horse slaughter must be banned WORLD-WIDE. Younger, perhaps better educated people from various cultures, hopefully might be changing their dietary habits from what their parents & grandparents ate. You have to start with decreasing demand for something before it will stop. Look at some of the other “things” (poor, tortured creatures!) some of these other countries & cultures eat, it’s appalling to us, but normal for them! The world is full of flesh-eating, blood-thirsty ZOMBIES! Sorry if I offended anyone, but I could not ever go back to eating animals, & just don’t understand those that do, especially with all the knowledge & education we have available today!


  1. Do they test flesh, kidney, liver? Can someone tell me how it is done?
    I thought they had to test the kidney.


      • Sort term it goes to “where” it is needed; long term is another matter, just as meds have different long term effects in humans.


    • The best place to test is the kidney, and then the liver. However a muscle biopsy will show the drug as will a blood test. I did a blood test on one of my geldings…..before and after bute. it does show up, but we suspected in a lesser concentration than would be founf in the kidneys. Too much bute , over perscribed will affect the kidneys and liver of a horse.


      • Maureen, bute will only be present in it’s original form in the urine for 72 hours and in the blood for up to 21 days, after that it will not show up in the blood. Bute is processed in the liver and it’s metabolites are stored in the kidneys and it is a reuptake medication so the metabolites Oxyphenylbutazone will at times be “sent” back to old injury sites and or new sites in response to stress, etc.


  2. It says it detects bute but does it dected the metabolite, oxyphenylbutazone? That is as dangerous as bute itself. The kidney test will detect the metabolite. It would also be important to find out the cost of this test vs. the kidney test.


  3. Kinda of stupid to test the “meat” because, by then an equine that should have never gone into the food system is ALREADY IN THE FOOD SYSTEM.

    The proverbial “cart before the horse”.

    And, is this now an avenue the killers will use to say….we don’t let bute get into the food system….even though that equine is now irrevocably butchered?


  4. I’d be interested if they made this in an user friendly environment. So we can test our own beef products. Then if we found Bute we could call the health dept and they could take it from there.

    But honestly at this point I’m happier going vegetarian. I’m not so good at eating all veggies prepared steamed and whatnot. I need stir fry. But hay it’s a start!


  5. it is an ironically terrible state indeed that the drugs they give horses to make them run faster ect will be the potential downfall of horse slaughter, because their precious bodies will not be fit to eat by humans .

    Horses bodies belong to themselves The very drugs that are given to horses for one brutal industry ( racing) will be the downfall of another brutal industry ( horse slaughter)

    Somewhere some how I try to take comfort in that this horse meat scandal is the beginning of the end of horse slaughter at least… I hope to God in North America

    Governor Fallin in Oklahoma was completely side swiped and blinded by untrue facts .She honestly believes that horses receive a humane slaughter and that there must be an answer for old and sick horses to receive a human end to their lives This is the only reason she brought the Oklahoma horse slaughter bill to fruition. She may not realize this yet, but she will!,, that she has made the biggest most tragic mistake of her life and political career

    I pray very hard each night that this new horse slaughter plant in Oklahoma if it ever does get started.. will be bankrupt asap because there is no market in the EU. for horses slaughtered in the US and Canada.


  6. Are the horses still alive when they test? If they aren’t then what good is this to us? We just lose more horses as they continue to ignore the facts. If it is a live testing procedure, then I am all agog with it. If not it’s more of the same manure.


  7. I went to the company site but it is down for maintenance. When it is back up in a few days ask them if this new test could be adapted to a live horse instead of just samples of horse meat? could it be used at a horse slaughter plant by one of the plants on sight USDA vets? The vets should know enough about lab work that they could do the testing themselves. Its worth a try.


  8. I just went to the site again and sent a email to a Stu Matlow at Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc. I asked him if the new test had to use horse meat samples or could it be adapted for testing on a live horse? I pointed out that if it could be adapted for use at the slaughter plant that it would save the lives of thousands of horses if the test was positive because the horse would have to be turned away. I hope he emails me back with a few answers.


  9. I have some really good news. I just got a email back from Stu and he said it could be adapted for live horses using a blood test he said it would take a little more R&D but it could be used at a slaughter plant. If each horse had this blood test it would save thousands of lives. If every racehorse was tested before it was sent to a auction they would all be saved. There would not be one racehorse just off the track that would have to die. This may be a break through that was needed to stop this killing.


    • Bute only stays in the blood stream for up to 21 days. decreasing in strength as time goes by from the time of injection or ingestion. So if a horse was injured, put on stall rest or paddock rest for a couple of months before being dumped, the 21 days may be past. Medications don’t stay in the blood stream for ever. But Bute isn’t the only drug banned.. Nitrofurazone, is banned and is a carcinogen, how many horses have had that. The only way to stop is to stop sending our horses to slaughter and across borders for slaughter.


      • Jo-Claire,
        The reason I brought up the thoroughbreds is because they are given bute everyday before a race. With that being the case and these horses being one of the largest number sent to slaughter long before the 21 days is up. The blood test being taken before they are sent to a auction as proof of the presence of bute just might save a lot of them. If this company can come up with a blood test that would show up traces of bute that could be taken in the barn before and checked before they leave with a kill buyer I’d be all for it. The company lab workers knows how long Bute stays in the blood stream they may not wnat to tackle this, they might consider it not worth the expense of development. We will have to wait and see.


      • I thought bute never left the body. Does it leave the blood stream but stay in the kidney and muscle tissue? Please explain–I always wondered


  10. Very interesting information. If this test could be implemented, do we really think these criminals would use it? “Killer Buyers” are most deceitful people in the World. It appears to me if the EU continues their investigations, they are going to find more than they bargained for. This has been such a big business for agriculture as we have seen, they are not going quietly. I don’t know if it will help, but I sent Michael Moore information on the slaughter issue and the Wild Horses and Burros. He has always been a champion for social issues. So who knows, maybe he will look into this. RT, I
    told him that you always keep us informed. You just might be contacted…I surely hope so.


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