Stop Horsing About
12 February 2013
In the last two weeks there has been an outcry from the European press about the revelations that horse bologneighs have been sold as beef bolognaise along with other processed meat products. Quite rightly the public are very concerned about the idea of consuming a foreign food substance and the popular press have whipped up this collective worry.
Horse meat is not harmful per se. It is widely consumed around the globe especially in Central and Eastern Asia but also closer to home in mainland Europe. However, there has been wide speculation about the possibility of phenylbutazone entering the food chain via horse meat which could have serious health consequences.1 Despite this, a medline search yielded no case reports of morbidity or mortality related to horse meat consumption.
As health care professionals, surely the concern should not be what type of meat our patients are eating but the unregulated source of that meat. Our worry is that if unregulated horse meat is entering the food chain, could that mean contaminated beef, pork and chicken products are also entering the food chain in greater numbers with potentially greater health consequences?
An unregulated meat supply chain is a grave public health concern and the government must investigate the wider ramifications that this brings. It is imperative that the government get a grip of the reins to ensure this horse-gate scandal doesn’t run away with itself.
1Dodman N, Blondeau N, Marini AM. Association of phenylbutazone usage with horses bought for slaughter: a public health risk. Food Chem Toxicol. 2010 May;48(5):1270-4.
Competing interests: None declared
Ealing Hospital, Uxbridge Road, Southall, London UB1 3HW
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