Local cattle spared

FDA rules ‘no health risks’ in sugar beet byproducts

What a difference a week makes.

North Big Horn County cattle producers and the local sugar industry are breathing a sigh of relief this week after local, state and federal agriculture and food safety officials worked together to avert a potentially disastrous quarantine and possible destruction of local cattle in the wake of the Jan. 4 accident that claimed the life of a worker at the Western Sugar Cooperative sugar processing plant in Lovell.

During a meeting last Tuesday, Jan. 21, federal and state officials told local cattle producers who purchased beet pulp and tailings from the Western Sugar Co. for cattle feed in the wake of the accident that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration was considering a range of options including the quarantine and potential “depopulation” of any cattle that may have come into contact with byproducts deemed to be “adulterated” by the FDA.

Beef producers were also asked to return any pulp and tailings taken from the factory in the days following the Jan. 4 accident as the FDA and Wyoming Dept. of Agriculture enacted what they termed a “voluntary recall” of the product.

Since then, local elected officials – who were not invited to the Jan. 21 meeting – sounded the alarm and the office of Gov. Matt Mead also went to work on the issue. A risk assessment was conducted, leading to the declaration this week that all of the cattle are free and clear of any risk to human or animal health.

The sugar factory resumed production last Friday, Jan. 24.

By David Peck

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