FDA Confirms Clostridium Botulinum Type C In Alfalfa Cubes Linked To 48 Horse Deaths

Jan 9, 2023 - 11:20 AM

The Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF), in cooperation with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory, has confirmed the presence of Clostridium botulinum type C in alfalfa hay cubes linked to at least 48 horse deaths, including 20 in Louisiana and others in New Mexico, Texas and Colorado, with many additional horses becoming clinically ill.

Equine botulism is a condition caused by a bacterial toxin produced by Clostridium botulinum. In this incident, the condition was likely caused by direct ingestion of the toxin produced by the vegetative bacteria through contamination of the alfalfa hay cubes.

The FDA began their investigation, in conjunction with state agriculture departments, after reports that horses in Colorado, Louisiana, New Mexico and Texas showed neurologic symptoms consistent with botulism. LDAF investigators received information of possible alfalfa hay cube adulteration with animal remains, and subsequently confirmed the presence of animal remains in an unopened 50-pound bag of “Top of the Rockies Alfalfa Horse Cubes” (Lot # 111422), produced by Manzanola Feeds LLC, a feed manufacturing firm in Manzanola, Colorado. This finding indicated that material from an animal or animals may have been incorporated into the cubes during alfalfa harvesting. Clostridium botulinum, the bacterium that causes botulism, is commonly present in decaying animal carcasses.

As a result of this ongoing investigation, Manzanola Feeds has recalled Top of the Rockies alfalfa cubes with the date codes 111222, 111322, 111422, 111522, and 111622.  If you have Top of the Rockies alfalfa cubes with these date codes, or you can’t be sure of the date code of the products you have, throw them away in a secure container and follow FDA handling and cleaning instructions.

Immediately consult a veterinarian if your horse ate this product and shows signs of neurologic illness, such as muscle tremors, difficulty eating or swallowing, difficulty standing, or collapse. You can also report the illness to FDA through the Safety Reporting Portal or by calling your state’s FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinators. If possible, share the brand name and lot numbers of what your horse ate.

For more information on botulism, visit LDAF’s website.

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