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There was a new twist in the horsemeat scandal yesterday (Wednesday 10 April) when it was announced that bute has been detected in Asda’s budget corned beef.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has reassured consumers that the levels of horse painkiller phenylbutazone in the Asda Smart Price corned beef are unlikely to cause any harm.

“What we have found in this positive test result is a very low level of [bute]… which is only really just above the limit of detection,” said Andrew Rhodes, director of operations at the FSA.

“This is considerably lower than a therapeutic dose and you would have to consume enormous quantities of meat, way more than anyone could physically consume, to get near.”

Horse carcasses tested positive for traces of bute in February, but this is the first food product revealed to contain the drug.

From Monday 11 February, a new policy has meant that no horsemeat can be released from abattoirs until it has tested free of bute.

The 340g Smart Price tinned corned beef was withdrawn from supermarkets in March after tests showed that it contained horsemeat, but Asda has only recalled the product now that it has been discovered to contain bute.

Asda’s Chosen By You corned beef has also been recalled – it has not tested positive for the drug, but is made in the same factory.

Customers who have bought either product can return it to the supermarket for a refund.