FSS urge farmers to help prevent lead poisoning in cattle

29 March 2022

Article: 56/1210

On 22 March 2022, Food Standards Scotland (FSS) launch a campaign aimed at encouraging farmers across Scotland to remain alert to the risks of on-farm lead poisoning for cattle. 

The campaign will include highly targeted social media messaging alongside close engagement with key industry bodies to distribute information on the cause and prevention of livestock incidents, which often peak in spring when cattle are put out to pasture. 

Lead is a highly toxic metal which can cause slow or stunted growth, blindness, infertility, birth defects and death. Not only are the health impacts on livestock distressing, but there are financial implications such as veterinary fees, carcass disposal and loss of market value. 

Contaminated meat, offal and milk containing lead at levels above legal limits is unsafe and illegal to sell. In addition, there is a minimum 16-week withdrawal period which can cause delays across supply chain and incur costs for testing. 

Although there haven’t been any recent incidents, over 400 animals have been restricted from the food chain due to lead poisoning since 2019. 

Lead batteries, old paint, bonfire ash and fly-tipping are the primary causes of lead poisonings. FSS advise that prevention is the best strategy and checking fields regularly and removing animals’ access to these sources are the first steps in achieving this. 

Source: FSS, 22 March 2022