In August of 2014 50,000 turkeys died in a single weekend in West Michigan, due to lasalocid contamination in their feed. Turkeys at Sietsema Farms are routinely fed lasalocid, either to control parasites or to promote growth, but this batch of feed contained much more than the intended dose, because additional lasalocid was mixed with the feed from a contaminated grease product called Lascadoil.
This week we have new information on what happened, from the response of the FDA to two different FOIA requests. First, from a FDA slide deck dated 11.13.2014 we now know that in addition to Michigan, lasalocid-contaminated grease was distributed to Ohio, Illinois and Indiana.
In addition, we received a copy of a 483 FDA Report on Shur-Green Farms, LLC, which states that Shur-Green Farms marketed, sold, and shipped Lascadoil waste - an industrial by-product intended for use as a bio-fuel - as an ingredient for use in animal feed. Furthermore, Shur-Green Farms sent an email to its broker confirming that Lascadoil could be used in animal feed.
In addition, the FDA report states that Shur-Green Farms continued to distribute lasalocid-contaminated Lascadoil to animal feed manufacturers, even after being notified by its supplier that there was an ongoing FDA investigation due to Lascadoil contaminated feed.
More is sure to be revealed as investigations continue, but two things are already clear. One is that we can't trust food producers to self-regulate to ensure a safe food supply for consumers. Two is that we can't trust our state government to notify us when serious food contamination issues occur; Governor Snyder has yet to acknowledge that a major feed contamination issue occurred in Michigan on his watch, and neither Governor Snyder nor MDARD has issued a single press release on this issue.
Lack of trust in the conventional food system and lack of trust in the state government to adequately regulate that industry is one of the major reasons that people in Michigan are increasingly looking to grow their own food. Given their poor track record in keeping our food supply safe and transparent, the State of Michigan should end its efforts to limit the ability of Michigan citizens to grow their own food by making changes to the GAAMPs, changes to the MAEAP, and changes to existing laws that would eliminate existing rights to grow food. People in Michigan have a right to food that is free of drug residues, and a right to a state government that works for the benefit of the people rather than the benefit of an industry.
A full set of links to original documents and news stories on the Lasalocid contamination issue can be found here.