Ohioans violate mad cow feed rules

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SALEM, Ohio – Two Ohio feed manufacturers have been flagged for violations of federal regulations designed to prevent mad cow disease.

North American Nutrition Companies in Lewisburg, Ohio, and Halter Feed and Grain, Massillon, are on the Food and Drug Administration’s priority list for official corrective action.

Inspectors found violations in labeling, record-keeping and restricted feed handling at the two Ohio mills.

Eleven others nationwide were out of compliance as of April 24.

One violation. North American Nutrition Companies blends, distributes, transports and manufactures feeds for livestock and poultry in the United States and parts of Canada.

The company drew FDA’s red flag because of a consigned material that included a restricted use protein, according to Henry Turlington, the company’s director of quality assurance.

The ingredient, used at the customer’s request, was believed to be safe. Further investigation showed Turlington and other company officials the product was restricted.

They called the Ohio Department of Agriculture and FDA as a precaution and got the ingredient out of their plant, Turlington said.

North American Nutrition Companies has discontinued business with the pet food supplier that requested the restricted ingredient.

“We’re proactive and very focused on manufacturing safe and quality products that meet regulatory and customer requirements,” Turlington said.

In Massillon. Inspections at Halter Feed and Grain in late November 2003 showed the plant had failed to label products “that contain or may contain prohibited materials with the caution statement – ‘Do not feed to cattle or other ruminants,'” according to a warning letter issued by the FDA.

The letter also said the firm failed to establish and “maintain written procedures, including clean-out and flushing procedures, to avoid … cross-contamination of common equipment” used to mix feed.

The company also failed to “maintain records sufficient to track prohibited materials throughout their distribution” including customer contact information.

Halter Feed and Grain’s Massillon plant burned in January 2004.

The FDA still asked owner Ken Halter to list steps to be taken to correct the violations if he wanted to operate the facility again.

Halter was unavailable for comment.

Feed ban. The FDA’s ruminant feed ban, effective since 1997, prohibits the feeding of meat, blood and bone meal and other animal proteins to ruminants including cattle, sheep and goats.

The ban is enforced through inspection of feeders, feed manufacturers and retailers across the country.

Minor problems. Another 28 firms inspected in 2004 are listed for minor violations and were asked to correct their problems voluntarily.

Among that list are Ohio operations Agland Co-op, Canfield; Dorset Milling Company, Dorset; Farmers Elevator Co., Houston; Iams Co., Lewisburg; Midwest Poultry Services, Greenville; Town & County Co-op, Grafton; Valley Feed Mill, Orwell; and Western Reserve Farm Co-op, Middlefield.

Tracking sales. At Agland, store employees are helping track sales of Corta-Flex, an equine liquid joint supplement.

The ingredient label lists “animal protein products,” so every time a bottle goes out the door, store manager Debbie Eells tracks the buyer’s name, address, phone number and the date of sale.

“When we ask [customers] for their information, they ask why. We tell them and then they say, ‘But I’m just using it for my horse,'” she said.

“Should anything come up with a cow getting mad cow, we have to be able to tell [the FDA] where all this went,” Eells said.

The same stuff. Western Reserve Farm Co-op at Middlefield also took voluntary action against the Corta-Flex on its store shelves, according to general manager Mike Eastlake.

“We follow all compliance and our inventory is always tracked and in balance,” he said, noting his employees track purchases of the supplement as Agland does.

“We’re very much a proponent of not doing anything to chance having mad cow” in the United States, Eastlake said.

Both cooperative spokespersons said they were eliminating the product from their inventory and would replace it with a similar product that didn’t include animal protein products.

A spokesperson from Town and Country was unavailable for comment.

(Reporter Andrea Myers welcomes reader feedback by phone at 1-800-837-3419, ext. 22, or by e-mail at amyers@farmanddairy.com.)

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