The tragic death of several horses in the California Central Valley due to ionophore contaminated feed serves as a reminder to all of us that feed quality is of the utmost importance. There are a number of steps you can take that will help to ensure that you are feeding your horse quality sack feed, and that will also help to protect your horse in case of a feed recall.
Ensuring Feed Quality
To reduce the risk of contamination in your horse’s feed, it’s important to know what quality control measures your feed company is taking. While avoiding manufactures that produce horse and cattle feed in the same facility is the safest option it may not be feasible. The question is are they producing medicated feeds and if so are they an FDA as a registered medicated feed mill? They should be as this is a legal requirement and goes some way to insuring that the methods used in, and the facilities and controls used for manufacturing, processing, packaging and holding such feeds are in accordance with the current good manufacturing practices. Registered mills are also required to maintain records and share these with the FDA.
Companies manufacturing feeds for horses in a mill that also produces medicated feed for other species should have a dedicated equine line. Meaning that no medicated feed goes through the mill lines used to generate the equine feed. If your feed mill manufactures medicated feed ask them if they have a dedicated equine line.
Even with a dedicated line sometimes accidents happen and feed can become contaminated. This is why mills should have handling procedures in place to prevent contamination beyond the dedicated line. Contact your feed company and ask about the procedures they use to prevent contamination. What methods do they employ that will insure that only the ingredients you expect end up in the finished product? Additionally, researching your feed company can give you valuable information on how their products are manufactured. It may be that they don’t manufacture their feed at all. Many feed companies have some of their products toll milled, which means they are contracted out to other facilities to be produced. If this is the case how does your feed company know what is going in to their feed?
Another area to inquire about is how they screen ingredients for Mycotoxins. These molds commonly occur in feeds and are not a problem as long as concentrations stay low. Strain and quantity vary with temperature and moisture in the feed during harvest and storage. However side effects of consuming greater quantities range from mild digestive disturbances to equine leucoencephalomalacia or blind staggers moldy corn poisoning. Mills with good quality control screen all at risk feed ingredients on arrival and before they enter the facility rejecting feed that tests to high in specific molds.
Questions about the above quality control measures should be very easy things for your feed company to answer and they should not resist answering them. If you are not happy with the answers you are getting and something just doesn’t feel right, trust your instincts and take your business elsewhere.
After you have chosen your feed company and made your purchase it is important to take some measures in case your feed should be recalled. You will want to know whether it is your feed that is contaminated. Every bag of sack feed comes with a Lot Number printed on the tag or near the seam of the bag. This number indicates the manufacturing date and location of a particular product. When a company issues a feed recall, they or the FDA release the lot numbers that were affected. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is not keeping the lot numbers on the feed you purchase. It is important to have the lot numbers in order to track the product and prove to the company that your feed was affected. More importantly, you will be able to stop feeding you horse immediately if your feed is one of the bags affected in a product recall. Without the tag you have little recourse.
Categories of FDA Recalls
When the feed company or FDA issues a recall, there are several categories that indicate the severity of the contamination of the feed.
Market Withdrawal: occurs when a firm removes a product from the market to correct a minor violation. Under this recall, the product is not subject to FDA legal action.
Class III: a situation where a product is not likely to cause adverse health consequences.
Class II: occurs when exposure to the product may cause reversible or temporary medical conditions. The probability of adverse health consequences are “remote.”
Class I: a situation where the product is likely to cause serious health problems or death. Unlike Class II or III recalls, the FDA is required to publish a press release and the company is required to notify the feed stores that they distributed the product to.
Taking the time to insure quality control measures are in place can go a long way in keeping your horse safe.
How to be Prepared for a Feed Recall by Summit Equine Nutrition LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.