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More Hogs From Fair Found to Be Tainted by Drugs

August 27, 1993|RICHARD CORE | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

COSTA MESA — Carcasses of seven more hogs auctioned to meat processors at the Orange County Fair were condemned after inspectors found high drug levels in their systems, fair officials said Thursday.

Officials had announced three weeks ago that one out of four hog carcasses found to have traces of the antibiotic sulfa methazine had to be condemned because it contained unsafe levels for human consumption. The tainted hog was one of 163 sent from the fair to slaughter at the Farmer John Meats plant in Vernon.

But results this week from further U.S. Department of Agriculture tests on 55 hog carcasses consigned to other meat processors turned up seven additional cases, fair spokeswoman Jill Lloyd said.

The discoveries, however, have not provided fair officials with clues as to how the hogs were contaminated.

"It doesn't help us," Lloyd said. "There's no real solution to how they all got it. We can't determine that."

Sulfa methazine is routinely given to piglets in "starter" feed to help them fend off infection. It is removed from the feed given to older hogs to ensure that no residue remains when the animals are sold for slaughter.

Fair officials, local veterinarians and a child who raised one of the tainted hogs said last month that they suspected the problem was caused by a mix-up in feed bags, possibly at the fairgrounds, where the hogs stayed from July 9 until the auction July 17.

"It's very strange," Lloyd said. "And really too bad for some of these kids who can't complete the sale."

Students in 4-H and Future Farmers of America are taught about the dangers of sulfa methazine and told that it takes two weeks or more for the drug to leave a hog's system, Lloyd said.

Still, fair officials have invited local youths who raise pigs to a meeting at 7 p.m. Oct. 5 at the fairgrounds with a USDA veterinarian, Dr. Joe Lyons, to discuss how the problem can be prevented. For more information, call (714) 708-1530.

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