State Veterinarian’s Office and FDA issues advisory warning about recalled alfalfa following equine deaths linked to feed

State Veterinarian’s Office and FDA issues advisory warning about recalled alfalfa following equine deaths linked to feed

The following information was distributed by the Colorado Department of Agriculture on December 20, 2022. 

The Colorado Department of Agriculture (CDA) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are cautioning horse owners not to feed Top of the Rockies alfalfa cubes with the date codes 111222, 111322, 111422, 111522, and 111622. Consumers who have products marked with those date codes or who are unsure of the date code should throw them away in a secure container and follow the handling and cleaning instructions below. Horse owners should immediately consult their veterinarian if horses ate the recalled product and show signs of neurologic illness, such as muscle tremors, difficulty eating or swallowing, difficulty standing, or collapse.

The affected alfalfa cubes were made by Manzanola Feeds of Manzanola, Colorado, and FDA has confirmed the firm distributes products to feed stores and co-ops in 10 states: Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Montana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas and Wisconsin. Further distribution may be possible, so it’s important consumers check the date code if they have Top of the Rockies products.

FDA is aware of at least 98 horses in Colorado, Louisiana, New Mexico, and Texas who showed neurologic symptoms and is working with state authorities to learn more. At least 45 of these horses have died or were euthanized due to declining health. At this time, it appears that Top of the Rockies alfalfa cubes was the only common food source among all of the cases.

The equines affected showed symptoms consistent with botulism. While botulism in horses is not a reportable disease in Colorado, veterinarians must report all cases of equine neurologic disease to the State Veterinarian’s Office.

FDA is conducting further testing to pinpoint the cause of the horse illnesses, but horse owners and handlers should take immediate precautions to protect human and animal health. Consumers with Top of the Rockies alfalfa cubes should immediately inspect the product to check the date codes and discard any affected feed.

More information can be found in the FDA announcement, including directions on what to do if you suspect you have this recalled product, recognizing the symptoms that have been reported, and how to report a horse illness.

This is an ongoing investigation, and FDA is working with state departments of agriculture in Colorado and other states as well as testing feed and tissue samples.

FDA recommends that consumers who have affected feed should:

  • Avoid handling the cubes directly and wear disposable gloves and a face mask while throwing the cubes away and cleaning any bins or containers where they were kept.
  • Wearing gloves and a face mask (preferably an N95 respirator), clean out all the empty bins or containers where the alfalfa cubes were kept.
  • Make a bleach solution by combining ¼ cup household bleach to every 2 cups of water.
  • Completely cover the container with the bleach solution, place a layer of paper towels on top of the bleach, and let sit for at least 15 minutes.
  • Wipe up any remaining liquid with new paper towels and let the containers air dry.
  • Clean the area with liquid soap and water to remove the bleach and discard any items that may have come into contact with the contaminated food or containers.
  • Dispose of the face mask and gloves in a secure trash receptacle and wash your hands with soap and running water for at least 2 minutes.

The risk of humans becoming sick from equine feed is low. Humans should not consume the product and follow proper disposal procedures outlined above to protect their health.

More information can be found at the FDA website: