BEVA and the BVA have been in the media spotlight today with the use of bute and passports coming under close scrutiny.

Defra Minister David Heath has announced the latest bute (phenylbutazone) test results. The presence of bute has been confirmed in 8 samples out of 206 tests.

Chief Medical Officer Professor Dame Sally Davies has stated that horsemeat containing phenylbutazone presents a very low risk to human health.

Responding to these latest developments the British Veterinary Association (BVA) and British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) have issued the following short statement:

"The presence of phenylbutazone (or bute) in horses intended for the food chain will be of concern to consumers who rightly expect the UK food chain to be robust. We are grateful to the Chief Medical Officer for clarifying the very low level of risk that this presents to human health and we will work with the FSA and Defra in any way we can to assist their investigations into these incidents.

"The ability to treat horses with bute is very important for equine welfare. Bute provides affordable, long-term pain relief for horses and is unique in this respect.

"The UK Horse Passport Regulations are designed to facilitate the ongoing medical treatment of horses not intended for the human food chain, whilst ensuring that these animals do not enter the food chain.

"We fully support the concept of the Horse Passport Regulations but have argued for some time that there are problems with the system in terms of the number of Passport Issuing Authorities and the vulnerability of the system to fraud. We are very keen to continue our dialogue with Defra and others to find ways to make the system more robust.

"Our members are aware of the strict rules regarding the regulation of medicines (including bute) and the use of horse passports, and in recent years we have provided clear guidance on the regulations to help both vets and their clients. These incidents will hopefully reinforce these messages amongst horse owners and all of us involved in equine healthcare."

An initial commentary on issues arising (available here) has been produced by Peter Lees of the RVC (an RCVS councillor)

Guidance notes are available via the BEVA website Medicines Page (http://www.beva.org.uk/useful-info/Vets/Guidance/Medicines)