CHICAGO, Aug 7 (Reuters) – Tyson Foods Inc, the largest U.S. meat processor, said it would suspend purchases of cattle fed the growth enhancer Zilmax, saying it was worried about cases of cattle with difficulty walking although it did not know the specific cause of problem.
Rumours of Tyson’s action sparked a sharp rally in Chicago Mercantile Exchange cattle futures on Wednesday. Removing Zilmax from feed rations would bring down the weight of cattle, resulting in less available beef and likely drive up beef prices.
Merck & Co Inc, whose animal health division manufactures the additive, said in a statement that tests have proven that Zilmax is safe and that it was working with Tyson. Its website says that Zilmax has been used in cattle globally for nearly two decades.
Tyson said it would suspend purchases beginning Sept. 6, citing cases of cattle being delivered to its plants with difficulty walking or being unable to move.