- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 10, 2015

ALLENDALE, Mich. (AP) - Federal officials are investigating how feed likely contaminated with oil intended for industrial uses ended up killing 50,000 turkeys on a western Michigan farm in August.

State scientists at a January meeting of the Michigan Commission of Agriculture and Rural Development outlined actions that were taken to keep consumers safe and contain potential problems related to the poisoning, the Kalamazoo Gazette reported (https://bit.ly/1ASwLDQ ).

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture are investigating the matter. FDA spokeswoman Juli Putnam said the agency can provide only limited information because the investigation is ongoing.

The feed was given to at least 20,000 hogs, but those animals were OK, officials said.

“The turkeys … died before they made it to market, and exposed hogs were subjected to the recommended 28-day withdrawal period before going to slaughter,” Putnam said.

Rick Sietsema, one of the owners of Sietsema Farms of Allendale, a network of family-owned farms, said entire flocks of turkeys at five of the farm’s locations died on the same weekend, before any of the birds went to market. Officials pinpointed feed as the problem.

Sietsema said he, the farm’s veterinarian and employees collected samples of dead birds and feed for analysis. They sent samples to Lansing and notified Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, and federal agencies got involved.

Sietsema said he is awaiting word from federal investigators about how material intended for industrial uses was shipped to his farm as a feed additive. Meanwhile, Sietsema said the farm has suffered more than $1 million in uninsured losses.

State Veterinarian James Averill said the farm’s records helped investigators determine that the poisoning wasn’t simply due to workers improperly mixing a feed additive. Instead, officials said it appears that a component of biofuel was instead used as an ingredient in the feed.

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Information from: Kalamazoo Gazette, https://www.mlive.com/kalamazoo


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