What are Sulfa Compounds?
Sulfa compounds are antimicrobial agents used in the prevention and treatment of animal diseases. There are eight sulfa compound groups. Antimicrobial agents have been used for many years by the livestock industry and are currently available in many medication products. These products may be administered orally (drench or bolus), in feed or water, or by injection, and have a recommended label withdrawal period that will vary with different products, between 4 days to 30 days.
What are the Current Issues with Sulfa Compounds?
A major renderer will no longer accept animal carcasses with sulfa compound residues.
Producers sending such products to rendering may lose available deadstock collection services.
Some sulfa compounds are very stable chemical agents that may be difficult to break down during the rendering process.
Concerns have been raised over the use of antimicrobial agents that may contaminate meat and bone meal, potentially posing a public health risk.
Export markets are limited when products contain sulfa compound residues.
Good housekeeping and management skills are recommended to prevent cross-contamination.
Best Management Guidelines for Prevention
Read labels on feeds and veterinary drugs to see if they contain sulfa products. Be aware of what you are using.
Ask your veterinarian for alternatives to sulfa- based products where and when applicable.
Develop a protocol with your veterinarian when using sulfa-based products. When in doubt, ask.
Consult with your veterinarian on whether treatment is the best strategy. Determine if and when an animal is to be culled before you start treatment.
Keep proper records and identify animals that may contain residues, to protect the food chain and the environment. Consult with your deadstock collector.
Develop a separate handling protocol and disposal plan for dead animals that may contain sulfa compound residues and ensure all employees and family members are aware of the procedures to follow. Communication is key to prevention.
Improve your awareness. The Livestock Medicines Education Program (LMEP), Environmental Farm Plan (EFP), on-farm food safety training and species-specific medication lists provide valuable information. Knowledge is the key to residue prevention.
Never place market animals in pens where other animals have been housed and treated with sulfa compounds before facilities are thoroughly cleaned and dried.
Do not ship animals prior to withdrawal time on label.
Never use a vehicle to transport market animals that has been used to transport animals containing sulfa products without first thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting the vehicle.
Never use equipment or utensils in the feeding or treatment of animals that have been previously used to administer sulfa products without first thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting.
Never administer any medication before reading the label.
Never exceed recommended labeled dosage without first consulting your veterinarian as the withdrawal period may be extended.
More information on deadstock, including a Sulfa Product List, can be found on the OMAF website http://www.gov.on.ca/OMAFRA/english/livestock/deadstock/facts/info_sulfacompoundresidues.htm