Merck pharmaceuticals is currently in deep waters for its beef-enhancing drug Zilmax, and rightfully so, since it is suspected that the hooves of some cattle may have fallen off after the muscle strengthening drug was induced.
The real kicker is that according to the FDA, meat produced from cattle fed with Zilmax is safe for human consumption.
Reuters published a special report on the shocking discovery, which took place at Tyson Foods Inc slaughterhouse in southeastern Washington state, raising serious concerns about the kind of meat we are consuming as well as the deplorable treatment of animals bred for food production.
Merck told Reuters that experts examined the data related to the animal whose feet were coming apart and "the findings from the investigation showed that the hoof loss was not due to the fact these animals had received Zilmax." Merck declined to identify the names of the third-party investigators or provide more detail on the research findings.
Even though Tyson - the country’s largest meat processor - told its feedlot customers it would stop accepting Zilmax-fed cattle and other companies have followed suit, the hooveless cattle raise serious questions about how little we know about the meat sold on at the grocery store.
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The hooveless cattle also raise ethical questions about whether the drive by modern agriculture to produce greater volumes of food, as cheaply as possible, is coming at the cost of animal welfare.
Of the more than 30 million beef cattle slaughtered in the U.S. annually, most move smoothly through a mechanized system that is among the most efficient in the world.
Zilmax served as a go-to solution for a troubled cattle industry, as one-fifth of the nation's feedlots went out of business over the last decade. With cattle herds in sharp decline, the additive worked along with improved animal genetics and feed to produce more meat with fewer animals.
Today, the company has said it plans to reintroduce Zilmax, but noted it is too soon to know when sales to U.S. and Canadian customers may resume.
The Merck suspension of Zilmax sales is voluntary, and at this point the company could return Zilmax to the market without seeking permission from the FDA.
Videos like the one shown above and news stories such as the Reuters report really makes one question eating beef in America.