Horse Feed Recall Affects East Coast

Horse feed dealers are the key to identifying if there's a potential problem with recently purchased Purina feed, according to Land O'Lakes spokesperson Lydia Botham.

Land O'Lakes Purina Feed LLC recently announced a recall of certain horse feed products manufactured at three East Coast facilities. The products might contain an ingredient with an unacceptably high level of aflatoxin.

Aflatoxins are a form of mycotoxin, and are secondary metabolites produced by Aspergillus spp. fungi. According to Gary Osweiler, DVM, PhD, professor of veterinary toxicology at Iowa State University, effects of aflatoxins can be progressive as well as cumulative. At levels greater than 50 ppb (parts per billion), aflatoxins can cause signs such as feed refusal, fever, weight loss, sluggishness, liver damage, jaundice, bloody diarrhea, kidney damage, birth defects, tumors, and suppressed immune function.

Read more about mycotoxins in "Damage From Within."

Botham said there have not been any confirmed health complaints due to aflatoxins related to the current recall of feed.

The recall is voluntary and precautionary, Botham stressed.

Dealers were notified of the recall in March. Botham said the aflatoxin was discovered through routine product testing performed by a state regulatory agency, with results confirmed by company testing.

The potentially affected feed products were manufactured at three facilities and sold in 17 states (see sidebar). Horse owners in these states should call their feed dealer to see if they received affected product.

"Different dealers got different products, so the best thing (horse owners) can do is go to their dealer," Botham said. "The dealer is really the hub--they're the ones who will know if anyone in their area may have received this product."

The feed in question was manufactured between November 2007 and March 2008, depending on the manufacturing plant from which it originated.

Hank Yohe, warehouse manager and equine specialist at Global Ag Associates in York, Pa., a Purina feed dealer, said he heard about the recall about three weeks ago.

"As soon as I found out about it, all the customers that I could identify I contacted immediately," Yohe said. "But I knew I didn't have any feed of that vintage in my warehouse. We turn our feed around about every two weeks. So the feed that was in question I knew had already gone out, was already sold, and probably was already fed."

Yohe said he has not received any questions from customers, nor complaints about the products.

According to a statement released by Purina, the concern stems from a single ingredient, which originated with a specific supplier.

"The product had the presence of aflatoxin above the level of what we would consider acceptable," Botham said.

Purina is no longer using this supplier. However, it was noted in the statement that other feed companies that utilize this supplier might also be affected.

"I'm not aware of any aflatoxin contamination issues affecting Triple Crown Nutrition's equine formulas," said Rob Daugherty, CEO of Triple Crown Nutrition, Inc. "Triple Crown Nutrition offers fixed feed formulas utilizing ingredients that are typically not affected by aflatoxins like those sometimes found in corn screenings and/or peanut hulls."

Some other feeds companies are working to find out the identity of the supplier to ensure their products do not contain the affected ingredient.

Watch for updates.

About the Author

Erin Ryder

Erin Ryder is a former news editor of The Horse: Your Guide To Equine Health Care.

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