Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Monday 11 December 2017

Inquiry launched after 'bute' found in pedigree cattle test

Charles Gallagher, CEO of the Irish Holstein Friesian Association, said that shows for dairy animals insisted that the animal was
Charles Gallagher, CEO of the Irish Holstein Friesian Association, said that shows for dairy animals insisted that the animal was "shown in its natural state"
Darragh McCullough

Darragh McCullough

The Department of Agriculture have confirmed that an investigation is on-going into the alleged use of the carcinogenic painkiller, 'bute', in pedigree cattle.

It is alleged that a blood sample taken from a pedigree Limousin bull at a recent Limousin society show and sale in Roscrea showed traces of phenylbutazone, which is banned from the human food chain.

Sources within the sector this week claimed that some beef breeders were using bute as a painkiller to help animals perform in the show ring.

The drug previously hit the headlines during the horsemeat crisis last year because it is regularly used as an anti-inflammatory in the horse industry, and there were fears that it was entering the food chain.

The farmer involved is believed to be one of the leading Limousin breeders in the country.

When contacted, he declined to comment.

The Limousin society also declined to comment on the situation.

"We have to safeguard the best interests of the Limousin society," said its secretary Paul Sykes. "But I have no doubt that the society will come out of this perfect."

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Management at Roscrea Mart claimed they had no knowledge of the issue.

The Food Safety Authority (FSAI) said that they were not treating the incident as a food safety issue since the bull in question had not entered the food chain.

The Department of Agriculture declined to confirm whether their Special Investigation Unit has been called in to investigate the farmer and associates at the centre of this.

Their statement simply stated that "an investigation was being conducted into an allegation that an animal presented at a show tested positive for 'bute'. The investigation is ongoing and it is not appropriate for the Department to comment at this stage."

From 2010 to 2013, the Department has tested 549 samples from bovines for bute, including 224 samples taken at farm level. However, no positive results arose from these tests. As a result, the Department claim that "there are no food safety concerns at issue".

Prohibited

Under EU rules, it is an offence to sell or slaughter a farm animal that has been administered a prohibited animal remedy or where there is present in the animal a quantity of an animal remedy in excess of the maximum residue limit.

"A person who is convicted of such an offence is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding €5,000 or to a term of imprisonment not exceeding six months, or to both. On conviction on indictment, (they are liable) to a fine not exceeding €500,000 or to a term of imprisonment not exceeding three years, or to both," concluded the Department statement.

Farmers found in breach of animal remedies laws are also exposed to Single Farm Payment penalties under cross-compliance.

Charles Gallagher, CEO of the Irish Holstein Friesian Association, said that shows for dairy animals insisted that the animal was "shown in its natural state".

"I've never heard of bute being used at our shows," he said.

It also emerged in the last fortnight that Irish horsemeat sold in Belgium tested positive for bute. The result of the tests carried out by the Department only emerged after the carcase had been slaughtered by B&F Meats at Thomastown, Co Kilkenny, exported and sold at Belgian butcher outlets.

The SIU have investigated the incident but the slaughterhouse has not been accused of any wrongdoing.

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