DEFRA has clarified the position regarding bute and horses for human consumption in the wake of widespread confusion in the industry.
The horse passport statutory instrument provides for administration of bute – as a substance not listed in Annexes I, II, III and IV of the European veterinary residue regulations – to be recorded on the passports of horses intended for consumption.
However, a section of existing residues legislation has the effect that only substances listed in Annex I-III can be given to horses entering the food chain, irrespective of when treatments are given.
DEFRA’s Alison Reeves explains: “European horse passport legislation makes provision for a six-month withdrawal period for substances such as bute. But because of earlier action to allow vets to use bute in most UK horses, bute product literature says that it is not authorised for use in horses for slaughter for human consumption.
“We are amending the residues legislation to remove this ambiguity so it is clear to all that horses are not prohibited from the food chain where bute was last given more than six months before slaughter.”
Rural affairs minister Alun Michael says: “The residues legislation hadn’t caught up with the setting of the six-month withdrawal period for bute.”
Read more about the controversy surrounding silhouettes in this week’s (18 December) issue of Horse & Hound magazine