goshen – The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) fined a Goshen manufacturing plant $500,000 and forced them to discontinue making horse feed and related products last week over a 2015 recall of tainted feed that killed several horses.
CDFA’s Agriculture Feed and Livestock Drugs Inspection Program announced earlier this month that it had reached a settlement with animal feed manufacturer Western Milling LLC in Goshen, just north of Visalia, Calif. Under the agreement, Western Milling has discontinued the manufacturing of horse and specialty feeds for species such as rabbits at the Goshen facility. The firm will implement extensive process improvements and acquire new state-of-the-art equipment for precision mixing and improved documentation, product identification, and traceability in the handling of medicated feeds.
Western Milling will also pay a cash fine of $526,500 and is required to implement $200,000 of new equipment in the Goshen facility to ensure that feed safety measures over and above industry standards will be met.
In September 2015, the facility produced horse feed that was adulterated with Monensin, a livestock drug that when fed to horses is known to be fatal. Known as an ionophore, the drug-laced feed resulted in a number of deaths. In 2016 the Goshen facility improperly mixed the same livestock drug into medicated cattle feed, which contributed to the deaths of several dairy calves.
According to the FDA, clinical signs of ionophore poisoning in horses vary depending on the dosage ingested, but can include poor appetite and feed refusal of the grain product, diarrhea, weakness, rapid heart rate, labored breathing, decreased exercise tolerance, depression, wobbly gait, colic, sweating, recumbency, and sudden death.
The first clinical signs are often noted from 12 to 72 hours after ingesting a toxic dose and the clinical signs may linger up to about 8 days. Permanent cardiac damage is possible in horses which showed adverse effects, but then recovered.
Western Milling voluntarily recalled 1,100 of the 50-pound bags of Western Blend horse feed on Sept. 8, 2015 after it learned that an ingredient in the feed in question may contain the drug. The recalled feed was distributed to stores in California and Arizona.
CDFA’s Feed and Livestock Drugs Inspection Program is responsible for the enforcement of the state law and regulations pertinent to the manufacturing, distribution, and labeling of commercial livestock feed in California while preventing adulterated feed from being consumed by livestock. The program maintains registration of livestock drugs, their proper use and safe handling procedures, and issues Restricted Livestock Drug Licenses to retail stores selling restricted livestock drugs in California.