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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Animal & Veterinary

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CVM Approves Use of Selenium Yeast in Beef Cattle Supplements

by Jon F. Scheid, Editor
FDA Veterinarian Newsletter 2007 Volume XXII, No III

The Center for Veterinary Medicine has changed its regulations to permit the use of selenium yeast in feed supplements for limit-feeding of beef cattle and in salt mineral mixes for free-choice feeding of beef cattle.

Due to selenium’s toxicity at certain levels, the regulation limits use to 3 mg per head per day when used in feed supplements for limit-feeding, and up to 120 parts per million (ppm) in salt-mineral mixtures for free-choice feeding, at a maximum rate of intake of 3 mg of selenium per head per day.

CVM’s action is based on a food additive petition filed by Alltech Biotechnology Center, Nicholasville, KY. Approval of the petition allows any firm to market selenium yeast for these uses if the product meets the conditions specified in the regulation.

This approval is the first to allow selenium yeast supplementation other than through its addition to complete feed. In complete feeds, an animal’s exposure to selenium is limited by how much feed the animal can consume. The use of selenium yeast in something other than a complete feed requires the livestock producer to be sure to limit the amount of the selenium-containing feed supplement the animals consume.

The American Feed Industry Association petitioned FDA in 1986 to permit the addition of inorganic selenium sources, sodium selenite and sodium selenate to feed at 0.3 ppm in complete feed, up from the 0.1 ppm FDA was allowing. The Association argued that the increase was needed because selenium is an essential trace element for animal nutrition, and the level FDA was permitting was not sufficient to meet the needs of many animals.

The regulation permitting inorganic selenium sources in complete feed for chickens, swine, turkeys, sheep, cattle, and ducks at levels up to 0.3 ppm was finalized in 1997. The final regulation also permitted a proportional increase in the limit-feeding consumption rates for sheep to 0.7 mg per head and for beef cattle to 3.0 mg per head; and it permitted an increase in the selenium fortification levels for salt-mineral mixtures for sheep to 90 ppm and for cattle to 120 ppm. The regulation also allowed more flexibility in certain manufacturing controls.

Subsequently, CVM approved the use of selenium yeast, which contains an organic form of the trace element, in complete feeds for turkeys, swine, beef and dairy cattle. No selenium source has been approved for addition to the drinking water of animals.

Notice of the Food Additive approval permitting the use of selenium yeast in feed supplements for limit-feeding of beef cattle and in salt mineral mixes for free-choice feeding of beef cattle published in the Federal Register on July 19.