24 Oct 2016 17:10pm
WINDHOEK, 24 OCT (NAMPA) - Traces of Zeranol were once again detected in samples of cattle urine and feed tested at the Okapuka Feedlot, Chief Veterinary Officer Milton Maseke said on Monday.
Zeranol is used mainly as an anabolic agent in veterinary medicine and functions as a growth promoter in livestock. It, however, has negative effects on the health of humans such as the development of breast cancer, prostate cancer, infertility and hormonal imbalances when the meat is consumed.
We received samples with positive traces of Zeranol. We are now waiting for the confirmation of the samples. Unfortunately, I do not know when we will receive that, Maseke told Nampa on the sidelines of a media conference on Monday.
Additional sampling and testing by the Directorate of Veterinary Services (DVS) and its European Union-based contracted laboratory was done, and samples of both feed and urine were received last week for processing abroad.
Maseke revealed this to Nampa after the Meat Corporation of Namibia (Meatco) announced last week that the feedlot conditionally reopened on 30 September 2016.
Meatcos acting board chairperson, Ronald Kubas in a media statement issued last week gave his assurance that consultations are ongoing between the DVS and the company, and the matter will be resolved urgently.
He said business continues at the feedlot with the slaughter of animals, including marketing of feedlot product within the region and markets outside, like the EU.
Kubas last week said the company did not deliberately administer Zeranol and/or its metabolites.
Maseke said last month that the indefinite closure of the Okapuka feedlot is in the interest of public health and to protect the meat industry.
This is not the first time the feedlot has been put under quarantine. In April this year, the DVS ordered the meat processer to put business on hold after it took urine samples from cattle that indicated the presence of Zeranol.
In May 2016 again, the DVS temporarily lifted the quarantine, pending the final outcome and instructed the feedlot to resume its usual operations.
The DVS then in a letter dated 02 September 2016, restricted the movement of the 8 000 cattle in the feedlot, pending results of analysis of the samples. It remained closed until 30 September 2016 when Kubas announced that it reopened for business again, but with conditions.
If the feedlot continues to stay closed, some 500 workers could lose their jobs.
Losses for the company over the same period are estimated at N.dollars 140 million, according to Meatco.