At 985 locations around the United States and Canada, companies hold medicated feed licenses from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), varying from well-known companies such as Tyson, Cargill, Perdue, Foster Farms, and Land O' Lakes to small family businesses never heard of.
When a feed miller has successfully completed the application process it can start mixing antibiotic growth promoters in livestock feed. The medicated feed mill industry accounts for 80% of the annual antibiotic use in the United States.
Not all are good
FDA inspects feed mills for animals just as it does food manufacturing facilities for humans. Recently two mills (in Kansas and Virginia) received warning letters after the FDA found ‘significant deviations’ from Current Good Manufacturing Practice.
FDA said the Virginia mill's non-medicated feed was also bad because it was "contaminated with filth." Among other things the feed mill and warehouse were not maintained in a clean and orderly manner.
Spoiled feed and damaged bags were found on the floor, along with trash, which were providing a steady food supply and attraction for rodents, mice, and other pests. Rodent excreta pellets were found throughout the building.
Drug components used in the medicated feeds had not been properly controlled to assure their identity, strength, quality and purity once they were incorporated into a product. Record keeping, including the daily drug inventory, was cited for deficiencies.
Adulterated medicated feeds
At a Kansas feedlot plant FDA found medicated feed products to be legally defined as adulterated because of "significant deviations" it found from the regulations.
Daily drug inventory records were not being properly kept, and medicated feeds containing two different drugs were "not within the permissible limits and no investigation or corrective action was documented." Also drugs were not being weighed and counted correctly.
FDA has issued medicated feed mill licenses to 15 firms in Canada, and to 970 other establishments in the US. The state of Iowa has the highest number of licensed mills (90) and five states only list one feed mill that is allowed to make medicated feeds – Maine, New Hampshire, New Mexico, West Virginia and Wyoming.