By: Pat Raia
California-based Western Milling LLC has agreed to pay more than $500,000 in fines in connection with its manufacture of monensin-contaminated horse feed.
Monensin is an ionophore antibiotic sometimes included in ruminant, swine, and poultry feed, but which is toxic to horses. Clinical signs of ionophore poisoning in horses include poor appetite, diarrhea, weakness, rapid heart rate, labored breathing, exercise intolerance, depression, wobbly gait, colic, sweating, recumbency, and sudden death.
In 2015, Western Milling voluntarily recalled some batches of Western Blend horse feed after learning that several horses that reportedly consumed the feed either became ill or died.
Prior to the recall, Black Fence Farm in Clovis, California, purchased some of the feed and fed it to 51 horses at the farm, said Florida-based attorney Andrew Yaffa, who represents the Black Fence Farm horse owners. In 2016, the horse owners filed a complaint against Western Milling, alleging, among other claims, that the manufacturer was aware of monensin in its equine products.
On May 2 the California Department of Food and Agricultural Feed and the Livestock Drugs Inspection Program announced that they’d reached a settlement with Western Milling under which the feed manufacturer will pay a cash fine of $526,500 and is required to install $200,000 of new equipment at its Goshen, California, facility “to ensure feed safety measures over and above industry standards will be met.”
No one from Western Milling was available to comment.
Yaffa said he was encouraged by settlement.
“It’s an incredibly high fine,” he said. “Western Milling will not be able to put other horses at risk.”
In the meantime, the case involving the Black Fence Farm horses remains pending, Yaffa said.