Authorities identified two reasons why Illegal horsemeat is not safe for humans. The horsemeat scandal started in Ireland in December and continues to spread to other Eurozone nations. Until recently, the health issues were brushed aside. Now, authorities are starting to worry about the horse drug phenylbutazone, also known as "bute". The other concern is a disease called "Horses AIDS". According to a Feb.10 article in the UK Guardian, any meat with the drug or with Horses AIDS cannot enter the human food chain.
Owen Paterson is the UK environment chief. He is one of the first government officials to admit that a possible health threat exists since the first discoveries of food that was labeled as beef, but contained horse DNA. Early reactions led the public to believe that the contamination presented no threats to consumers and that horse DNA was not a problem. However, the problem is not that simple.
Phenylbutazone is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug that veterinarians use to treat inflammatory conditions like equine arthritis.
According to a Feb. 10 article in the Sun, equine infectious anemia is also called "Horses AIDS" or "Swamp fever". The disease may not pose a direct danger to humans, but there is no treatment and the disease is often fatal in horses. The disease spreads by many sources, including biting insects, blood, saliva and semen. In addition, horse feces, milk and contaminated veterinary medical equipment can carry the disease. Pregnant mares can pass it on to their foals in the womb. Animals that recover are lifelong carriers.
The horsemeat problem came to France with a brand of lasagne called Findus Lasagna with meat that is 100 percent horsemeat. This food comes from Comigel, a French plant. The meat is being tested for the presence of phenylbutazone and there are concerns that the horsemeat came from Romania. Romanian horsemeat is banned in the UK.
According to a Feb. 11 article in FT Europe, Stephanie LeFoll is the French agriculture minister. She plans to release the results of her investigation into the source of the meat on Wednesday. The complex maze of company ownership and distribution makes the source very difficult to find.
Stephane Le Foll, the French agriculture minister, will release the results of an investigation by the country’s anti-fraud agency on Wednesday, Feb. 13.
At this point, authorities have been reluctant to label a particular cause as criminal fraud, incompetence in labeling or lack of oversight on the part of regulatory authorities. Paterson, however, is not reluctant to call it a criminal issue. He said,
"That is why we're carrying out this unprecedented screening of processed beef products. It looks as if the problem is limited to processed beef, and it looks as if there has been criminal substitution of beef with horse. This issue is an issue of labeling and fraud. This is a conspiracy against the public. Now, it's either a case of gross incompetence or, as I said yesterday, I've got an increasing feeling that it is actually a case of an international criminal conspiracy."