(NAFB)--The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association commends Merck Animal Health for taking meaningful action to address questions about the impact of Zilmax on animal welfare. Merck Animal Health is launching a five-step plan - which includes reaching out to cattle producers and suppliers in the next 30 days to initiate a scientific audit that focuses on the feeding of Zilmax. NCBA notes America’s farmers and ranchers take animal care very seriously - and therefore support efforts to ensure Zilmax can be used responsibly to raise beef without compromising the health and well-being of cattle.
Zilmax is an FDA-approved feed additive that - when added to feed in small amounts at a specific time in their lives - can help cattle make the most of the food they eat. This results in more lean muscle instead of fat. Extensive research has shown that beta-agonists - like Zilmax - are metabolized quickly by cattle so they aren’t stored in the body and therefore are not present in the meat. They are approved for use in the U.S., Canada, Australia and two dozen other countries across the developed world.
Cattle producers believe in making decisions about the use of such animal health products based on science. At this time - NCBA says there is no scientific basis for saying the use of beta-agonists caused the animal welfare concerns cited by Tyson in their decision to stop buying cattle fed Zilmax. Still - when concerns about the use of beta-agonists and cattle well-being surfaced - NCBA convened the world’s top animal welfare experts - including Dr. Temple Grandin - to review the science and compare it to real-life observations.
Over the past several months - NCBA has reviewed numerous scientific studies, gathered input from cattle feeders using the products and sought to understand any possible correlation between the use of beta-agonists and reported animal welfare issues. The goal is to fully understand how the use of these products impacts animal welfare in real-life conditions. If it is determined the use of beta-agonists compromises animal welfare - NCBA will take appropriate action to ensure every animal raised for food receives the proper care it deserves. According to NCBA - the five-step plan announced by Merck will accelerate this process while ensuring that every feedyard worker handling Zilmax is properly trained and certified to use the product. In committing to retrain and recertify every customer using Zilmax - NCBA says Merck is going above and beyond what is required to ensure their product is used responsibly.