Unlicensed Remedies Break Law and Risk Trade

20 February, 1997

The Ministry of Agriculture is cautioning farmers not to use unlicensed remedies for facial eczema or any other animal complaints, such as footrot and infertility.

Not only is it contrary to the law to do so, but it potentially places at risk carefully nurtured international market access agreements, MAF warned. At present there are no licensed injectable zinc formulations for the prevention of facial eczema.

Research within the Crown Research Institutes has found that zinc is highly irritant, and in the current formulations, distribution from the site of injection is uncertain, thus limiting any potential efficacy. Farmers should not conduct their own trials with an unlicensed animal remedy as this is contrary to the law for some very good reasons.

Firstly, New Zealand's leading position in international trade for top quality meat and dairy products is based on its management of animal welfare and product quality. New Zealand is leading the world in accepting in vitro or laboratory tests rather than using animals to test the potency of commonly used sheep and cattle vaccines. Any trials or manipulations of animals in New Zealand must be subject to the approval of an Animal Ethics Committee (AEC) established under a Code of Ethical Conduct, approved by the Minister of Agriculture.

No on farm trials are permitted without AEC approval. In addition, the Animal Remedies Board, which is responsible for licensing animal remedies in New Zealand, will not licence a product where the data has been generated without this approval.

New Zealand recently signed an agreement with the European Union which provides for mutual recognition of a range of veterinary public health requirements. Our commitment to animal welfare, and robust quality systems for assessing animal remedies and for monitoring for meat residues played a large part in progressing this agreement. The use of unlicensed animal remedies by farmers is a potential weak link which could destroy valuable international agreements like this.

MAF is urging farmers to take advantage of the range of licensed animal remedies to prevent facial eczema in sheep, cattle and goats. These products have been assessed against agreed criteria and meet appropriate levels of safety, quality and efficacy.

The most effective animal remedy solution is currently oral zinc treatment. There are 18 products licensed by the Animal Remedies Board for this purpose, for sheep and cattle, most of these are drenches, but longer acting capsules are also available. One product also has a label claim for goats.

Prevention requires planning and information on spore counts. Pasture management to avoid grazing pastures with dead plant material which foster the fungal growth is one tool. There are three registered pesticides available which reduce the spore counts in pasture.

The list of available products can be obtained from Susan Robertson at the Agricultural Compound Unit of MAF, but all farm retail outlets in facial eczema prone areas will have stocks of licensed remedies available.

Media inquiries to:
Debbie Gee, Manager, Corporate Communication, (04) 474 4258



Last Updated: 08 September 2010

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