Zilpaterol – Warning Reinforced

Feed contamination threat lurks

During November 2019 the National Horseracing Authority provided a notice that traces of the substance Zilpaterol was noted in some racehorse specimens, originating from all over the country.

There was some negative reaction from owners and trainers at the time, labelling the notice ‘bureaucratic disingenuity’ and asking exactly what it was that trainers were supposed to do to prevent contamination.

In South Africa this substance is a component of some commercial feed rations supplied to cattle destined for meat production.

Stakeholders were urged to take precautionary steps to monitor that the feed sourced for horses would not have Zilpaterol present.

Positive findings of Zilpaterol in racehorses competing in France during October 2020 has highlighted the possibility of contamination of horse feed with this substance, which is prohibited (forbidden) in racing.

This feed contamination within Europe was recently shown to originate from contaminated molasses which was sourced from South Africa.

The NHRA stated in a notice issued last month, that it must be noted that significant volumes of molasses are locally fortified with Zilpaterol, for use in cattle feedlots.

The above considered, there is some possibility that molasses (or feedstuff destined for cattle feedlots) could introduce some Zilpaterol into local horse feed.

The NHRA therefore recommends that racehorses are only fed:

  • Feed which have some assurance / certification from the supplier not to contain Zilpaterol,
  • and / or feed made from crops / raw materials (especially molasses) which have some assurance / certification from the supplier to not contain this substance,
  • and / or feed of which finished product batches are tested by the supplier not to contain this substance.

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