Portugal finds horse painkiller drug in burgers, meatballs

Burgers and meatballs sold in Portugal by French retailer Auchan have been found to contain horsemeat with small traces of an animal painkiller that is potentially harmful to humans, Portugal's consumer watchdog said Thursday.

The country's consumer protection association DECO said it had "detected anti-inflammatory drugs in found in food products on sale in Portugal, which may pose a risk to public health as the use of such drugs is banned in animals destined for ."

"Phenylbutazone was detected in samples of Auchan hamburger and in Polegar meatballs, which according to an initial analysis, contained horse DNA," the group said in a statement.

Polegar is Auchan's low-price brand.

According to Deco, the samples showed only low-level traces of phenylbutazone, also known as "bute", and did "not present an immediate danger" to people's health.

The association announced on Monday that these meat products sold in Portugal by Auchan, as well as lasagnes sold by the Spanish El Corte Ingles group, contained traces of unlabelled horsemeat.

The Portuguese branch of Auchan confirmed that the meat products, bought by Deco on February 20 for testing, were removed from shelves on February 22 after tests done by the French retailer also revealed the presence of equine meat.

The scandal of horsemeat being passed on as beef has engulfed a string of European countries in recent weeks, with millions of ready meals pulled from .

The row has embroiled major international corporations including Swiss food giant Nestle, which recently recalled lasagnes destined for restaurants in Portugal.

Late last month, Portuguese seized 79 tonnes of "meat and meat-based products" destined for retail and distribution outlets that contained horsemeat despite not being labelled as such.

Related Stories

Ikea says no horsemeat in US meatballs

date Feb 25, 2013

Ikea said Monday there was no horsemeat in its popular meatballs sold in the United States, after the Swedish furniture giant withdrew possibly horsemeat-tainted meatballs from stores in Europe. ...

Russia finds horsemeat in sausages

date Feb 27, 2013

Russia said Wednesday it had found horsemeat in a shipment of pork sausages imported from Austria in its first known case of horsemeat contamination as the scandal spread further across Europe.

Recommended for you

Patient portals could widen health disparities

date 24 minutes ago

Online sites that offer secure access to one's medical record, often referred to as patient portals, are increasingly important for doctor and patient communication and routine access to health care information. But patient ...

Bill seeks to expand coverage for Hawaii fertility law

date 5 hours ago

A proposal in Hawaii's Legislature would expand a state mandate on fertility treatments to include same sex couples and single women, updating a law that now only offers such benefits to women who are married to men.

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.