WICHITA, Kan. — Tyson Foods Inc. told cattle feeders this week it will no longer buy animals fed a supplement that's designed to bulk them up before slaughter, citing experts who suggest the drug may be causing cattle to become lame.
The decision by the food giant has raised concerns from industry experts that less beef will be available, which would drive up consumer prices.
"There have been recent instances of cattle delivered for processing that have difficulty walking or are unable to move," Tyson told feeders in a letter. "We do not know the specific cause of these problems, but some animal health experts have suggested that the use of the feed supplement Zilmax, also known as zilpaterol, is one possible cause."
Tyson, one of the nation's largest beef processors, said it is still evaluating the problem, but as an interim measure will suspend purchases of Zilmax-fed cattle beginning Sept. 6.
"This is not a food safety issue," the Springdale-based Tyson wrote. "It is about animal well-being and ensuring the proper treatment of livestock we depend on to operate."