Sugar cane molasses from South Africa was the source of an unapproved feed supplement in the feed batch recently recalled by GAIN Equine Nutrition.
A notification to the EU’s Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed described the risk as “serious” due to a prohibited substance, zilpaterol residues of veterinary medicinal products, present at 22 parts per billion in the molasses.
However, there is or was no feed safety issue as a result of this contamination, according to the Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine, which said feedstuffs containing molasses from the contaminated batch were sampled and sent for official analysis, and test results indicated that zilpaterol levels were below the accredited range of the method of analysis. Based on these results and risk assessments by relevant experts, there is no feed safety issue, said Agriculture Minister Charlie McConalogue in the Dáil last week.
GAIN Equine Nutrition had confirmed specified equine feed batch numbers of cubes (2029–2040) and muesli (2028–2040) may be impacted by the presence of an unapproved feed supplement.
The batches were manufactured using molasses supplied by agricultural commodities merchant ED & F Man, who stated in their recall notice, issued October 10, “ED&F Man Liquid Products Ireland Ltd is informing you that products listed below are suspected of containing minute traces of the substance zilpaterol. Although the initial levels detected are extremely low, the substance in question is banned in the European Union.” GAIN sourced and verified alternative molasses supplies on October 5, and resumed production of equine feed, following consultation with the DAFM, the responsible regulatory body.
Deliveries to customers and retail outlets recommenced on Wednesday, October 7.
GAIN said, “We again apologise sincerely to our valued customers for any inconvenience caused. The entire GAIN team would also like to thank customers and the equine community for the support shown to them in recent days.” Minister McConalogue said following industry notification of an indicative positive test in some horse feed for a prohibited substance, zilpaterol, his Department immediately commenced an investigation, working closely with the Food Safety Authority of Ireland.
A specific importation of molasses was found to have contained very low or trace levels of a beta agonist, zilpaterol. The Department immediately instructed the import company to initiate a full recall of the contaminated molasses. All feed business operators in receipt of the contaminated molasses were identified and advised to retain the product, pending its return to the import company.
Minister McConalogue said the Department’s extensive sampling and testing annually includes more than 900 samples tested for zilpaterol in bovine, ovine, porcine, poultry and equine species. In the past decade, no positives have been identified or reported.
Testing will be increased now, to provide additional assurances with regard to overall public health and food safety,