SALEM, Ohio – Last week, two Iowa State Fair exhibitors were stripped of their ribbons and premium money after their projects tested positive for ractopamine hydrochloride.
The growth-enhancing drug was found in a lamb and a steer. Neither was champion of its show.
At the time of the August show, ractopamine was illegal in feeds for all species except swine.
This summer, the additive was approved for use in beef cattle, however the drug is not yet available commercially for that use.
Random test. According to Gary Slater, manager and chief executive of the fair, the fair’s policy is to test the champion and reserve champion of each species, plus six other animals randomly.
Fair officials oversee testing immediately after the completion of each species’ show, he said.
“Finding just one animal in more than 1,000 [of a species], not that we checked every one but on a random basis, is pretty wonderful,” he said. “I don’t see a cause for alarm in these findings.”
Stripped. The youngsters, Jenna Bristle and Tyler Hartgers, were each set to take home just under $50 in prize money for various projects entered in the fair.
But as a result of their livestock findings, neither will pocket any premiums and have been ordered to return ribbons won with those projects.
Each youngster was also barred from showing projects at that state’s fair until 2006.
Not new. According to Slater, the state has been testing livestock projects for at least five years, in an attempt to level the playing field for all 4-H members.
Last year, two lambs tested positive for ractopamine and were disqualified. In addition, two other lamb exhibitors were banned for violating ownership guidelines.
Last year’s champion steer is currently at the center of a court case, with the fair board questioning the animal’s identity.
This year, in addition to the drug testing policy, the fair increased its animal identification requirements. All steers and lambs exhibited were noseprinted, a move Slater described as “flawless” in stopping identification-related questions.
(Reporter Andrea Myers welcomes reader feedback by phone at 1-800-837-3419, ext. 22, or by e-mail at email@example.com.)
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