Alleged Contamination of Veterinary Medicine

Alleged Contamination of Veterinary Medicine



After administering a drench containing selenium to his flock, a sheep grazier had a number of the animals die. The grazier alleged that the administered product contained a toxic concentration of selenium and was the cause of death. ARC was appointed by the insurers of the product’s manufacturer to investigate the incident.


What we did

Selenium is an essential component of sheep nutrition however an excessive concentration can be fatal. We had to research what concentration comprised a fatal dose and under what circumstances and whether in fact the sheep had died from selenium toxicity. Laboratory tests showed that drench taken from the container used by the claimant did contain a concentration of selenium significantly in excess of the concentration specified on the product label. All potential sources of contamination had to be investigated. These included the product manufacturer, the distributor, re-seller and the grazier himself. Of these, the manufacturer was the main focus.

The manufacturer of the product was a large multinational company that manufactured the product at a plant in New South Wales. All relevant documentation relating to the production of the product was obtained and reviewed. This process was extensive. The company’s purchase and use of selenium was reconciled and the volume actually used matched the volume that the amount of product manufactured would have required if the correct concentration was maintained in the batches examined. The sale destinations of other packages from the same batch were identified and checked to see if any other incidents of sheep deaths had been reported.


The Result

While the source of the excessive selenium in the product used by the claimant could not be identified, no evidence could be found that the manufacturer of the product was at fault. On this basis, liability was denied.