Cancer causing drug phenylbutazone may have been in horse meat consumed in UK, Labour warns as Burger King dumps millions of patties

Cancer causing drug may have been in horse meat consumed in UK, Labour warns as Burger King dumps millions of patties after claiming it was unaffected
Horses slaughtered in UK last year tested positive for phenylbutazoneAnti-inflammatory drug is banned from human food chainBurger King has ended its deal with Irish firm ABP's Silvercrest plant
Managers told to mark boxes of burgers from firm with an 'X'But staff instructed not to remove the meat until replacements arriveSome products on its menu may be unavailable until new supplier is found

, the FSA identified five cases where horses returned non-compliant results. None of the meat had been placed for sale on the UK market. Where the meat had been exported to other countries, the relevant food safety authorities were informed.

'During the recent horse meat incident, the FSAI [Ireland] checked for the presence of phenylbutazone and the samples came back negative.'

'Precautionary measure': Fast food chain Burger King has stopped using Irish supplier ABP, the firm at the centre of the horse meat contaminated burger scandal

'Precautionary measure': Fast food chain Burger King has stopped using Irish supplier ABP, the firm at the centre of the horse meat contaminated burger scandal

But public analyst Dr Duncan Campbell told Mail Online that even if the FSA had tested for the presence of bute, there was a risk other anti-flammatory drugs not tested for could be present.

'Until we know where it [the meat] came from, we can't be sure there is no risk,' said Dr Campbell, who will be part of the official investigation into the horse meat scandal. 'It's a reflex for the FSA to say there isn't one.

'The number of Trading Standards officers has been cut and the amount of sampling has been declining for ten years.

'It means authorities cannot always afford to do as much testing as they might want.'

It emerged today Burger King told its restaurant managers to put all beefburgers from Silvercrest in boxes marked with an X after the fast food giant ended its
deal with APB's Silvercrest plant.

The chain issued the memo just three days after
insisting it would not be withdrawing any lines.

It warned that its boycott of Silvercrest could lead to a shortage of some products until alternative suppliers are found.

WHAT COULD BE IN YOUR BURGER

Phenylbutazone, or 'bute' is an anti-inflammatory drug which is regularly given to horses to treat lameness, pain and fever.

It is the most commonly used non-steroidal anti-inflammatory in equine practice.

Bute is banned from entering the human food chain in the EU because it can cause cancer and other lethal effects.

Horses that have been treated with it should have the information recorded on their passport, but Labour claim the issuing of such documents is fragmented in the UK, where there are 75 approved issuing organisations and no national database to track the information.

The Food Standards Agency tests to see that horses in slaughterhouses are fit for consumption and carries out further checks on the meat later down the line.

In 2012, it identified five horses with non-compliant results. None of the meat was placed
on the UK market and where it had been exported, relevant food safety authorities were informed.

But public analyst Dr Duncan Campbell said such sampling had been in decline for ten years. He warned that there was also a danger that other anti-flammatory drugs that have not been tested for could be present in the horse meat.

Stores were told to put boxes in a safe area and write 'Do Not Use' to top, according to an internal memo seen by The Sun.

They were also told to 'clean and sanitise' pans and sinks and throw away dishcloths used in the process.

But
vice president Tracy Gehlan told 485 restaurant managers not to remove
the burgers until replacements from a different supplier had arrived.

The memo said worried customers were to be told Burger King was taking all the 'necessary precautions' to ensure quality.

Burger King said in a statement: 'Food quality and safety are a top priority for Burger King restaurants globally.

'We have stringent and overlapping
controls to ensure that the products we sell to our customers meet our
strict quality standards.

'Silvercrest, a subsidiary of ABP Food Group, has been under investigation for potential contamination of some retail products.

'This company also supplied 100 per cent pure beef patties for our restaurants in the UK and Ireland.

'While
this is not a food safety issue according to findings from the Food
Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI), upon learning of these allegations,
we immediately launched an independent investigation that is currently
ongoing.

'As a precaution,
this past weekend we decided to replace all Silvercrest products in the
UK and Ireland with products from another approved Burger King supplier.

'This is a voluntary and
precautionary measure. We are working diligently to identify suppliers
that can produce 100 per cent pure Irish and British beef products that
meet our high quality standards.

'Unfortunately, this may mean that some of our products are temporarily unavailable.

'We
apologise to our guests for any inconvenience. However, we want to let
them know that they can trust us to serve only the highest quality
products.

'We take this
matter seriously and will continue with our investigations to determine
how this situation occurred and what lessons can be learned.'

Empty shelves: Tesco had taken its frozen burgers off the shelves today

Empty shelves: Tesco had taken its frozen burgers off the shelves as some contained 29% horse meat

Ten million burgers have so far been taken off supermarket shelves across Ireland and the UK as a result of the scandal.

Suppliers in the Netherlands and Spain have been identified as the possible sources for incorrectly labelled ingredients.

Work at the Silvercrest
plant in County Monaghan, Ireland, was stopped after new tests last week
revealed contamination.

The plant and another of the company's subsidiaries, Dalepak Hambleton in Yorkshire, had already supplied
beefburgers with traces of equine DNA to supermarkets including Tesco,
according to test results.

One product was found to contain almost 30 per cent horse meat.

But the company had insisted that meat
for Burger King products was stored and processed separately and that
there is no evidence to suggest that any of the chain's products had
been contaminated as well.

Tesco took out full-page adverts in a number of national newspapers apologising for selling the contaminated beefburgers, and Aldi, Lidl and Iceland also withdrew burgers from sale after they were found to contain horsemeat.

Another company, Liffey Meats, based in Co Cavan, Ireland, was also found to be supplying products to supermarkets with traces of horse DNA.

Not for sale: Tesco in Bristol had removed all its own brand burgers from sale today

Not for sale: Tesco in Bristol had removed all its own brand burgers from sale