Excessive Veterinary Drugs In Animal Feeds Can Be Hazardous To Consumers

Swine are among the farm animals that are usually given excessive veterinary drugs by raisers who don’t know any better.

Veterinary drugs administered in animal feeds may enter the food chain, posing potential health risks to humans. If the concentration used results in meat and eggs with residues exceeding the established maximum residue limits, there may be a potential risk to human health, says the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the UN.

The potential hazards may also include excessive residue levels of herbicide, insecticides, fungicides and from industrial or other extraneous contaminants such as the poly chlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and heavy metals, including mercury, lead or cadmium.

Cereals and treated seeds are the most likely source of these contaminants. The most significant hazard to human health are those chemicals that accumulate in animal tissues or are excreted in milk or become incorporated in eggs at levels in excess of established limits for pesticides or maximum levels for contaminants in food or feeds, FAO says.

Feed and feed ingredients should be obtained and preserved in a stable condition so as to prevent hazardous effects due to contamination or deterioration. Upon receipt for example, feeds should be in good condition and meet generally accepted quality standards.

Preservation can be facilitated by low temperature storage, ensiling, dehydration or the addition of appropriate chemicals. Pasteurization also reduces the numbers of most pathogens. Maintaining low water activity will minimize bacterial and fungal growth.

Contaminated feeds should not be given to animals as residue could end up in milk. Good manufacturing practices and strict quality control should be followed at all times, FAO says.

It is essential that the levels of agricultural chemicals in feed are sufficiently low and in food is consistently below the established maximum residue limits, FAO added.

Feeds contaminated with mycotoxins in excess of established national maximum levels or international established maximum levels, should not be fed to animals producing milk, eggs or other tissues used for human consumption.

Grains and cereals should be stored under conditions of low moisture. Mold inhibitors can be added to reduce fungal growth.

Mycotoxin contaminated grains can be used for alternative purposes such as alcohol production, but by products that result from it should not be fed to food producing animals.

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