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Advice to the veterinary profession regarding Horse Passport Regulations 2009

6 February 2013

Horse in a fieldThe Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Food Standards Agency (FSA) have reminded veterinary surgeons of their legal responsibilities under the Horse Passport Regulations 2009, and requested assistance from us in disseminating this advice to all members.

The move follows a small number of horses testing positively for the presence of phenylbutazone, which, if consumed, can be harmful to human health.

Defra and the FSA have asked for the assistance of the profession in ensuring that treatment with phenylbutazone is properly recorded in Horse Passports and have said that they are working together to understand the cause of the positive tests, and what longer term measures can be put in place to stop this happening.

In the interim, all horses slaughtered for human consumption will be sampled for the presence of phenylbutazone, with immediate effect.

The letter from Defra and the FSA can be downloaded and the full advice can be read in a Veterinary Medicines Directorate/Defra leaflet.

Mark Bowen, Chair of the British Equine Veterinary Association’s Health and Medicines Committee, comments:

“The number of horses entering the human foodchain from the UK has doubled since 2009 and is no longer an insignificant minority of horses.

"All vets should be checking horse passports and only dispensing sensible quantities of this drug, and its prodrug suxibuzone.”

Meanwhile, a form is available from the British Equine Veterinary Association website for veterinary surgeons to use if the horse passport is not available, but emergency treatment is required.

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