SUMMIT, NJ – In response to recent questions about Zilmax, an FDA-approved feed supplement to improve cattle’s natural ability to convert feed into more lean beef, Merck Animal Health released its Five-Step Approach to Ensuring Responsible Beef on Aug. 13 to help inform its customers and interested groups on the safety and effectiveness of this supplement.


“The benefits and safety of Zilmax [zilpaterol hydrochloride] are well documented and the product has a 30-plus-year history of research and development and rigorous testing,” the company said in statement. “Worldwide regulatory agencies have reviewed extensive data on Zilmax and have concluded that use of Zilmax, according to the label, is safe in cattle. It is important to understand these data included rigorous animal-health safety and well-being studies – conducted by university experts - that found the behavior and movement of cattle fed Zilmax is normal.”


The five-step approach is:

  1. Merck Animal Health is committed to re-certifying every feeder/nutritionist/veterinarian that feeds Zilmax to cattle. The re-certification process will begin immediately. Special attention will be given to feed mixing and determining which cattle are good candidates for the use of beta-agonists. The company will engage third-party experts to provide periodic review of certifications.
  2. Within the next 30 days, Merck Animal Health is committed to reaching out to packers and suppliers to initiate a scientific audit. The audit will focus on the feeding of Zilmax, and will follow those cattle from the feedyard to the packing plant to determine potential causes of lameness and other mobility issues during feeding, transportation, offloading and staging at the processing facility. Merck Animal Health will do a thorough review of potential compounding factors--such as nutrition, transportation, receiving facilities, etc. It will perform this audit in conjunction with third-party experts.
  3. Based on company findings, Merck Animal Health said it is committed to reinforcing appropriate management practices for feeder customers to include overall nutrition and feeding objectives, animal handling, low-stress environments and transportation.
  4. Continuing in its work to advance animal well-being, the company will form the Merck Animal Health Advisory Board within the next 30 days, made up of representatives from small, medium and large feeders, packers, cow-calf operators, as well as animal-health and nutrition experts, to review available data. If additional recommended management practices are needed, these will be identified, shared and promptly implemented.
  5. Merck Animal Health takes its responsibility very seriously and is committed to sharing all of these findings and to be transparent.