There have been numerous times that we have consumed products and then found out there were different additives or harmful substances present, which is usually due to a lack of adherence to regulations, or knowingly contaminate the product to make a larger profit. This has recently become a rather hot issue is because of contaminated found in the UK, Ireland, and a few countries in the EU.
What was the contamination?
Some rather large quantities of commercially sold hamburger (“beef”) meat in Ireland was tested for DNA, per regular testing standards, and meat that was labelled as beef was found to actually have the DNA of pigs and horses present. The meat was found to have come from suppliers in France and Ireland that have then supplied major retailers such as Tesco (for Americans, Tesco is like Stop & Shop, Winn Dixie, or Ralph’s, a pretty major chain of grocers) which produces its own foods. Since the contaminated meats were found at one source, they were traced back to the sources and the issue was found to be much more widespread. Tesco products such as Bolognese sauces, lasagna, and other products have been contaminated with horse meat. Not only is the pig and horse meat contamination an ethical issue for many people, but there are also certain religious groups (such as Muslim or Jewish groups) that don’t eat porcine products due to beliefs, which makes this a huge issue.
One of the other issues is that the horse meat was found to have phenylbutazone (also known as bute) present in it. Phenylbutazone is a non-steroidal anti inflammatory drug (NSAID) that is used for short-term pain control in animals. It has been banned in both the US and the EU due to issues of aplastic anemia which results from suppressed bone marrow, so your white and red blood cells are not adequately produced, to properly clot or fight off infection. Even ingesting these meats, which were found to be up to 60% horse meat that was contaminated with phenylbutazone, which can be absorbed by humans and cause this bone marrow suppression and anemia.
Up to 16 countries in the UK and EU that have been affected by this meat contamination, not to mention that these suppliers also sent contaminated meat to large fast food retailers such as Burger King in the UK/EU, thus numerous people have been exposed to these different meats and the phenlybutazone. If you think you have been exposed, you should go to see your Healthcare Practitioner (HCP) and get assessed, but you should know that they are currently making the statement that ingesting these small amounts of the drugs through horse meat is presumed to not have an impact on your health, but it truly is unknown. If you feel unwell, and have been at risk, it is best to see your HCP and get checked out, especially if you have any other medical issues. For a list of affected foods check here.
Another reason to eat local and support local agriculture when you can, you know what kind of meat and the source!
Yours in Good Health