The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and European Medicines Agency (EMA) have agreed to conduct a health risk assessment of phenylbutazone after officials reportedly discovered the anti-inflammatory drug “in a small number of horse carcasses intended for the food chain.” According to a March 7, 2013, news release, the European Commission requested the assessment as part of an EU-wide investigation into beef contaminated with horsemeat.

“[U]sed sparingly in human medicine for the treatment of severe inflammatory conditions where no other treatment is considered suitable,” phenylbutazone is also approved for veterinary use but only in non-food producing animals such as dogs and sport horses. EFSA thus considers the drug a contaminant in food and will work with EMA to determine whether residues found in horsemeat pose any health risks to consumers. To this end, the agencies will consider “both the risk posed from consumption of the horsemeat itself as well as that arising from other products illegally contaminated with horsemeat,” and will present scientific advice on the matter to the European Commission by April 5, 2013.