USDA to purchase "tainted" cattle

Jan 31, 2014

As many as 5,000 cattle in a Wyoming and Montana feedlot will be purchased by the U.S Department of Agriculture (US- DA) and destroyed, according to a press release from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). According to the release, the cattle may have eaten feed that was contaminated by human matter following an industrial accident at the Western Sugar Cooperative’s Lovell, WY, facility on Jan 4, 2014.

According to news reports, a 28-year-old woman was killed at the sugar plant after apparently falling into a lift station, the machinery used to move sugar beets from the truck dumping area into the processing factory. The factory was immediately closed while the woman’s body was recovered, according to reports, but resumed processing the following day. The plant was again closed Jan. 10, following an FDA inspection.

The FDA has confirmed that no sugar or molasses manufactured by Western Sugar Cooperative has been distributed for human consumption since the accident occurred. The company has agreed to destroy all products manufactured for human consumption during this time.

During the period of Jan. 4 to Jan. 16, the company also produced beet byproducts (beet pulp, beet pellets and tailings) for animal consumption. Some of the beet pulp and tailings were distributed to local cattle operations as livestock feed and may have been fed to cattle. None of the beet pellets were distributed. No feed products were distributed after Jan. 11.

With the FDA’s oversight, Western Sugar Cooperative has notified all of its customers that received these beet pulp and tailings and is in the process of retrieving the recalled products.

The FDA has concluded that, while the animal feed product is adulterated, there are no known human or animal health risks.

Despite no risks, USDA has volunteered to purchase “any animals that consumed the recalled livestock feed, and that are imminently scheduled for slaughter,” USDA said in the press release. “This additional step is being taken to help ensure consumer confidence. USDA is working closely with FDA, as well as the states of Wyoming and Montana. These states will work with producers to identify and certify the animals that are eligible for purchase.” — Traci Eatherton, WLJ Editor