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Merck suspends Zilmax sales after Tyson poses animal safety concerns

Merck Animal Health has temporarily suspended the sale of animal growthsupplement Zilmax in the United States and Canada, the company announced onAugust 16. The decision comes one week after Tyson Foods stopped buying Zilmax becauseit suspected a link between Zilmax and cattle at Tyson facilities withdifficulty walking.

Merck Animal Health has temporarily suspended the sale of animal supplement Zilmax in the United States and Canada, the company announced on August 16. The decision comes one week after Tyson Foods stopped buying Zilmax because it suspected a link between Zilmax and cattle at Tyson facilities with difficulty walking.

In a statement, Merck said it has suspended Zilmax sales in the United States and Canada, pending a five-step scientific audit. The audit, which Merck will conduct in conjunction with independent experts, will monitor the process of feeding of Zilmax, and will follow identified cattle from the feedyard to the packing plant to determine potential causes of mobility issues during feeding, transportation, offloading and staging at the processing facility. The audit will also include a thorough review of other potential factors-such as nutrition, transportation and receiving facilities.

The company stated the suspension of sales should allow sufficient time to establish valid study protocols, identify feeders and packers to participate in the audit, and creation of a third-party team to oversee the process and validate its results.

K.J. Varma, head of  Merck Animal Health research and development, said the company is standing by the safety of Zilmax as the audit gets under way.

“We remain confident in the safety of the product, based on our own extensive research and that of regulators and academic institutions, and are committed to the well-being of the animals that receive it,” Varma said. “This important step demonstrates our commitment to providing our industry partners with data that will reaffirm confidence in Zilmax. We sincerely regret that this situation creates business challenges for our customers, but it is critical to ensure that this process is conducted appropriately and with rigorous scientific measures.”

The results of the audit will be shared publicly after it is completed, Varma said. 

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