In news that is unlikely to surprise anyone, industry-leading animal health companies Elanco and Merck Animal Health have taken issue with a recent Texas Tech study that calls into question the safety of feed additives zilpaterol and ractopamine. In a peer-reviewed article, Texas Tech professor Guy Loneragan explained that while the use of such chemicals, known as beta agonists, has shown significant societal benefits, the increased death rate of animals on such supplements makes it necessary to take a closer look. Merck and Elanco disagree. According to the two companies, beta agonists are completely safe to use. This claim was made in spite of Merck’s own announcement that it would halt the sale of a prominent drug in its lineup while further review was conducted (the company quickly established the drug would continue to be sold). One thing is for sure: Purchasers of animal meat aren’t necessarily buying the Merck line. Tyson Food Inc. has announced that it will no longer purchase cattle fed on Zilmax, one of Merck’s main beta agonist products, and Cargill, Inc. has promised to do the same. Merck and Elanco insist that studies like the one done by Texas Tech are flawed in approach, and that their own internal studies show no negative health consequence for treated animals. In the end, this one will probably be up to the FDA to decide; no judgments have been made against the two chemicals to date which means Merck and Elanco are free to continue selling them until the FDA says otherwise. About the Author:Craig Davis is VP of Vet Organics, a company which produces effective and safe natural remedies for dogs and cats.
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