A growth hormone used in the US for beef feedlots has been detected in batches of Irish horse feed.

GAIN Equine Nutrition has confirmed that it is investigating the potential presence of a contaminant in some batches of its equine feed range.

It has advised GAIN customers not to feed its products until further investigations have been completed.

The contaminant, Zilpaterol, is a synthetic beta-agonist approved for use as a performance-enhancer in some beef production systems outside of the EU. It is typically used in beef feedlots in the US.

Synthetic substance

The synthetic substance has never been part of the GAIN feed formulation in any of its animal feeds, the company said.

“A potential issue was first alerted to us based on positive test results from France Galop from some horses fed on our products in France,” the company said in a statement issued on Friday 2 October.

“Following receipt of this information, our quality and control team immediately commenced testing our feed products, both retained samples and also product in the market.

“Immediately on receipt of a positive test result on some individual feed samples this morning, Friday 2 October, we commenced the process of notifying all the relevant authorities and customers. We are working closely with all appropriate agencies, including the Irish Department of Agriculture, to fully investigate the source of this contamination.”

The company said it would provide a more detailed update once more information is available.

Martin Ryan, head of GAIN Equine, apologised to its customers.

“A thorough investigation and trace back of all feed ingredient sources is under way as a matter of urgency to determine how this external contaminant could have found its way into some batches of our equine product.”