Thermo Fisher Scientific phenylbutazone detection method for horsemeat

Tuesday, 09 April, 2013 | Supplied by: Thermo Fisher Scientific

In the wake of the horsemeat scandal, Thermo Fisher Scientific mobilised its Food Safety Response Center (FSRC) to develop a method to test for the presence of the veterinary drug phenylbutazone in horsemeat.

Phenylbutazone, commonly known as “bute”, is a potent painkiller banned in any horsemeat intended for human consumption. Although horsemeat is not approved for human consumption in Australia and the US, it is commonly sold and consumed in many countries around the world.

The Thermo Fisher method overcomes previous challenges of testing horsemeat by using a simple two-step solid-phase extraction (SPE) clean-up protocol that is faster than the manual liquid-liquid extraction procedures required by other methods. The method has been validated by Thermo Fisher FSRC scientists according to guidelines set by the EU, AOAC International and the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry.

Thermo Fisher says the fact that horsemeat may contain chemicals that are toxic to humans has been lost in discussions of mislabelling and fraud. The company says its testing method can rapidly detect bute and help protect the food supply.

According to the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service, phenylbutazone is one of the most toxic non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. It is not approved for use in food animals and there are no regulatory limits, such as acceptable daily intake or safe concentration for meat, established by the Food and Drug Administration. Therefore, the presence of any amount of phenylbutazone in food animal tissue will be considered a violation and likely to be unsafe for human consumption.

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