In a February 8, 2013, posting on BBC News online, Matt McGrath tells us that UK exports horse meat to other European countries for human consumption. The European Union says that this meat must be tested for bute (and other substances.) And the EU bans using bute on horses that are destined for human food. Bute, the short name for phenylbutazone, is used extensively in American racing to reduce swelling and inflammation. Some racing organizations in the US restrict the amount of bute and require that it be given just before a competition. Otherwise, trainers or owners may inject bute into an unsound horse so that it can perform without feeling pain. The horse can thus be injured. Bute has been found in UK horsemeat.
Sadly, America, Canada and Mexico also furnish horsemeat to the rest of the world. And because many of the doomed horses were once racehorses, they are full of bute. In fact, American racehorses have been called “walking pharmacies.”
Drugging race horses with illegal drugs is one of the many ways horses are abused, and has done much to spoil the reputation of what used to be called “The Sport of Kings.” My novel He Trots the Air has much to say about this type of abuse.