Horse painkiller drug found in Portuguese meatballs and burgers

Published:  8 Mar at 4 PM
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Expats getting over the shock of unknowingly eating horsemeat in Portuguese supermarket ready meals now have another issue to worry about.

French supermarket Auchan’s Portuguese outlets have been selling burgers and meatballs not only containing horsemeat but also showing traces of the drug phenylbutazone. The painkilling drug, known to be harmful to humans, was found in infinitesimal quantities in prepared meat dishes in Auchan supermarkets.

According to Portugal’s consumer watchdog, DECO, the animal anti-inflammatory drug, along with horse DNA, was detected in hamburgers and in Auchan’s Polegar low-cost brand meatballs. The use of such drugs, said DECO, is banned in animals destined for the meat trade.

Auchan has reassured its customers that all tainted or misdescribed products had been removed from shelves in all its Portuguese stores several weeks ago. Portugal is the latest of a string of European countries affected by the horsemeat scandal, which has also involved major international food giants such as Nestle, which recently withdrew lasagnes heading for Portuguese restaurants.

The scandal broke in the UK, and has since involved most of the major supermarket chains as well as slaughterhouses in the UK and Ireland. The only positive result to date is massively increased business in Britain’s traditional high street butchers’ shops, with customers saying that at least they know their purchases of beef, pork and lamb are as labelled..
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