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Health / Diseases

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Culling likely for 50,000 pigs due to banned antibiotic

At least 50,000 pigs on 97 farms in the Netherlands might have to be culled as a result of them having been fed with contaminated feed, Dutch agricultural title Boerderij Vandaag reports.

In addition to the pigs a similar fate might await several thousand veal calves and 150 dairy cows. In total, 103 farms have been temporarily closed by the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA), after having found the forbidden antibiotic furazolidone in feed.

The closure also applies to 11 pig farms in Germany.

Pig farms

The slaughter of the 50,000 pigs appears likely. The NVWA has already performed a round of test slaughters on several farms. Should the drug or a residu be traced in the animals, then the animals will have to be culled in accordance with European Union regulations.

Owners can only escape this fate by supplying test evidence per animal indicating that these substances are not demonstrable in the animals. This will at least take two weeks and test capacity is limited, causing this alternative to be most likely more expensive than prices paid at slaughter, which makes culling a sensible solution.

Veal calves

The feed ingredient problem, which was discovered in April 2014, was traced back to Dutch feed company Van Kats Food & Feed. Routine quality control in veal calve production demonstrated the usage of furazolidone, an antibiotic banned in Europe since 1995.

The company delivered a contaminated protein ingredient with traces of the banned antibiotic to a number of feed companies, turn delivering this to veal calf and dairy farms in the Netherlands. Part of the veal has been already exported to Germany, Belgium, France and Italy. Some meat has also been consumed already, but experts say the dosage of the antibiotic in the meat is not causing safety concerns.

Only recently, it became clear that the feed was also delivered to various horse owners and pig farms. This was reported by Trustfeed, an organisation controlling the safety of raw materials supplied to Dutch feed companies.

Initially, biscuit meal was thought to be the source of infection. Trustfeed states that also a soy containing raw material might be to blame. In addition, the reason why the banned antibiotic was added to a raw material is a mystery, as it has no added value for animals and is not considered a growth promoting drug.

Suspension

For now, feed company Van Kats Food & Feed has been suspended. This also means that its GMP+ certificate has been suspended.

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