Merck Animal Heath will suspend sales of Zilmax in the U.S. and Canada, while the beta-agnostic feed additive is under additional scientific audit after Tyson issued a ban on purchasing Zilmax-fed cattle.
While company officials "believe in the science that supports Zilmax and are confident in its safety and performance. Reinforcing this science and data-based approach, Merck Animal Health has announced it has strengthened its commitment to its Five-Step Approach to Ensuring Responsible Beef" in a company press release Friday morning.
Merck, in conjunction with independent experts, will conduct a scientific audit, which will monitor the process of feeding of Zilmax, and will follow identified cattle from the feedyard to the packing plant to determine potential causes of lameness and other mobility issues during feeding, transportation, offloading and staging at the processing facility. A thorough review of potential compounding factors-such as nutrition, transportation and receiving facilities will also be done.
The suspension of sales of Zilmax will allow sufficient time for the establishment of valid study protocols, identification of feeders and packers to participate in the audit, and creation of a third-party team to oversee this process and validate its results.
"We remain confident in the safety of the product, based on our own extensive research and that of regulators and academic institutions, and are committed to the well-being of the animals that receive it," says KJ Varma, senior vice president global research and development, Merck Animal Health. "This important step demonstrates our commitment to providing our industry partners with data that will reaffirm confidence in Zilmax. We sincerely regret that this situation creates business challenges for our customers but it is critical to ensure that this process is conducted appropriately and with rigorous scientific measures. After the five-step plan is completed, the results will be shared publicly."
Zilmax sales in the U.S. and Canada were $159 million in 2012.
Visit the Zilmax Information Center at http://www.merck-animal-health.com/zilmaxinfocenter.aspx for more details and updates on Zilmax.