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Basis for regulation of selenium supplements in animal diets

Journal of Animal Science 70(12): 3922-3927

Basis for regulation of selenium supplements in animal diets

Selenium was discovered 174 yr ago but, until 1957, was given little notice by biologists or was vilified as an agent that caused toxicity in grazing ruminants and horses in the northern Great Plains. After its status as an essential nutrient was established, Se received intense scrutiny, and hundreds of papers have been published dealing with its metabolic functions and the consequences of a Se deficiency. Because regions of Se deficiency are so extensive in the United States, great efforts have been made to gain Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for Se supplementation of animal diets. Initially, these efforts were thwarted by concern that Se might be carcinogenic. After this concern was resolved, researchers established supplemental Se levels that were efficacious, safe for animals, safe for humans that eat animal products, and protective of the environment. First approval of Se supplements was given in 1974 for supplementation of swine or growing chicken diets at .1 ppm. Supplements for turkey diets were approved at .2 ppm. Ultimately, in 1987, levels of supplemental Se in diets for chickens, turkeys, ducks, swine, sheep, and cattle were approved at .3 ppm. However, FDA regulations do not mention horses or zoo animals, and those who would ensure the welfare of these species by supplementing Se-deficient diets may be in violation of FDA interpretation of the law. In addition, the association of Se with death and deformities in aquatic birds at the Kesterson Reservoir in California has led to pressure on the FDA to reverse the 1987 amendments to the feed additive regulation. However, there is no established connection between Se supplementation of animal diets and the problems at the Kesterson Reservoir. If all of the animals that can be legally supplemented with Se in the United States were fed .3 ppm in their diets, the annual Se contribution to the environment would be < .5% of that originating from other anthropogenic and natural sources.

Accession: 002308481

PMID: 1474028

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