Controversial Feed Supplement Under Approval

Filed in Recent News by June 22, 2020

A NEW medicated feed supplement called Zilmax is currently being considered for approval by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Association (APVMA), to be used in the Australian beef feedlot sector.

The NSW Farmers Association strongly oppose the registration of the supplement because it contains the beta agonist zilpeterol, an active ingredient banned in major beef export destinations including China, Taiwan and the European Union.

Derek Schoen NSW Farmers Cattle Committee chairman said the approval of Zilmax may impact Australia’s meat export trade due to human health concerns associated with beta agonists.

“Most of our key trade markets have a zero tolerance to beta agonists, so approving their use is an unacceptable risk to Australia’s meat export industry,” Mr Schoen said. 

“The registration of Zilmax here could lead to a ban on Australian meat exports to some countries…last year, China banned all Canadian meat exports for five months because a beta agonist was detected in pork imported from Canada,” he said.

“Australian beef exports were worth almost $10.5 billion in 2019 alone..if we want Australian agriculture to become a $100 billion sector by 2020, we cannot jeopardise the profitability of one of its main contributing industries,” he said.

A spokesperson for the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) said they commenced a public consultation on May 19, “to seek comments from stakeholders in relation to the application for registration of the new product.”

“Zilmax Medicated Premix, is an oral medicated premix formulation containing 48 g/kg of the new active constituent zilpaterol hydrochloride,” APVMA spokesperson said.

“The application proposes the product is used to increase carcass leanness, increase dressing percent, improve the rate of body weight gain and improve feed efficiency in cattle fed in confinement for slaughter during the last 20 days on feed,” said the spokesperson.

Mr Schoen said NSW Farmers have advocated firmly against the approval of Zilmax which, if approved, has the potential to harm Australia’s ‘clean and green’ status.

“NSW Farmers has advocated alongside Cattle Council of Australia and the Australian Meat Industry Council to oppose the registration and has engaged heavily with the APVMA’s public consultation on the matter,” Mr Schoen said.

“We are not disputing the science supporting the potential benefit of Zilmax to feedlot efficiency, but the drug’s use is not worth the trade risk it presents,” he said.

“Our reputation for producing clean and safe food is valued both at home and abroad, so we need to be careful to maintain it,” said Mr Schoen.

APVMA said they have extended the public consultation period to provide stakeholders with additional time to provide comment.

The consultation period closes tomorrow, June 23.

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