KEEPING BUTE OUT OF THE FOOD CHAINRay Paulick
By Alex Brown
Bute is banned for food animals, our horses are not food animals.
The United States Food and Drug Administration released a document in 2003 establishing that phenylbutazone (Butazolidin, or Bute) is not fit for horses intended for the food chain. According to the document, Bute is a carcinogen, as determined by the National Toxicology Program. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) recently released a document establishing revised guidelines or horses intended to be slaughtered in slaughter houses in Canada. In that document there is a list of substances that are not permitted for horses intended for the human foodchain, regardless of when the substance is ingested. No quarantine period for these substances. They are simply banned. Bute is on that list.
Data compiled by the Daily Racing Form indicates that in 2009 99% of horses that ran in California pre-raced on Bute (7391 out of 7443). In a similar study of Suffolk Downs runners, 92% of horses pre-raced on Bute (1062 out of 1158). As I ask trainers about their use of Bute for pre-racing, trainers tell me they pre-race on Bute regardless of the condition of the horse. It is not because the horse is unsound, it is because we can and it does not slow the horse down for the race itself.
As horsemen we know that pre-racing on Bute is only one example of when Bute is administered to our racehorses. Many horses train on Bute as part of their daily regimen.
Is it not time now to ask our racing leaders to publicly support an end to slaughter, or at least ban racehorses from the food chain. It is clear that racehorses are not fit for human consumption from a food safety standpoint and knowingly allowing this practice to continue cannot be justified.
We should perhaps also ask the same question of the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). A vet, more than anyone, knows that our racehorses are administered Bute, and they now must undersrtand that Bute is prohibited for food animals.