July 01, 2017


 Court halts medicated feed production by Florida company


Posted June 14, 2017

A federal court order shut down medicated feed production by a company accused of safety failures and associated with the deaths of 17 horses.

Poultry feedingThe injunction issued May 4 in an agreement between the Food and Drug Administration and Syfrett Feed Company of Okeechobee, Florida, will require that the company and three company officers prove they have implemented adequate production controls and will comply with federal law before they are allowed to resume production of medicated feeds, FDA information states. Those controls must include hiring an expert who will ensure the company follows regulations on manufacturing practices, collecting samples from medicated feeds for laboratory analysis during the first year of resumed production, reimbursing the FDA for inspections and other regulatory operations, and cooperating with FDA investigators.

The company officers named in the agreement are owner and president Charles B. Syfrett; his daughter, vice president Melissa S. Montes De Oca; and his son, operations manager Charles B. Syfrett II. They agreed to the injunction without admitting guilt.

The company's primary products have been medicated feeds, and most of the company's products have been for use in food-producing animals, according to the complaint filed by the Department of Justice.

In three inspections from January 2014 through June 2016, FDA investigators found that the company failed to name active ingredients on medicated feed labels, failed to provide directions for use on the labels, lacked adequate contamination controls, and had inadequate procedures for identifying, storing, and controlling inventory of drugs used in medicated feeds, court and FDA documents state.

A July 2014 warning letter indicates that, during the January 2014 inspection, the company warehouse had an apparent rodent infestation—identified through gnaw marks and excrement—as well as at least four cats and six birds inside the building.

Syfrett Feed Company recalled a nonmedicated horse pellet product in April 2014—between the time of the inspection and the warning letter's arrival—in response to complaints that horses were becoming ill, and 17 horses were euthanized by September 2014, court documents state. The company discontinued the product after the illnesses and deaths but did not tell the FDA about the recall until May 2015.

In a response filed with the court, the company and its officers admit that they conducted a recall, horses owned by their customers were euthanized, and they told the FDA about the recall in May 2015. But they say they do not know whether the horses needed euthanasia as a result of eating Syfrett feeds, and they "therefore deny the allegation." But they acknowledged that the company has stopped making horse feeds.