Your horse, his passport food chain status and your worming

Have you legally opted out of eating your horse? It’s maybe a strange question, but ‘bear with’. While you probably aren’t electing to eat your horse yourself, under EU law horses, ponies, donkeys, zebras and Przewalski’s horses are all defined as food-producing animals. Like it or not this is their default status unless they have been specifically signed out of the food chain in section IX of their passport.

As owners we have a responsibility to make an informed decision about our horse’s status that could affect medical treatment, including administration of wormers, the records we are required to keep as well as our horse’s future welfare.

Default status – The horse as a food producing animal

Records of all veterinary medicines given to food producing horses must be kept to prevent harmful drug and chemical residues getting in to the food chain. 

Any substance which is administered and is listed in European Council Regulation 122/2013, the “Essential Substances” List, will be recorded in Part III of Section IX by your vet.

Other medicine use, including wormers, does not necessarily need to be listed in the passport, but must be recorded somewhere.

A copy of these records must be kept for at least 5 years following administration, even if the horse has since been sold or has died and you no longer have the passport. The following information must be logged:

  • Name of the veterinary surgeon who administered the medicine (if applicable) 
  • Identification of the animal treated 
  • Name of the product (including the batch number) 
  • Date of purchase for each medicine 
  • Quantity purchased 
  • Name and address of the supplier 
  • Date of administration 
  • Quantity administered 
  • The withdrawal period 

Owners or keepers of food producing animals must also keep a proof of purchase, such as a receipt or invoice, for all medicines. The requirement is onerous, but understandable if there is to be any chance of the animal reaching the food chain.

A food chain animal is also limited as to which veterinary medicines can be prescribed to keep this status intact. For example the wormers: Embotape, Telmin Granules, Panacur and Pyratape are all designated as ‘not to be used in horses and ponies intended for human consumption’. For this reason, whoever prescribes your horse’s wormer – vet, pharmacist or SQP, must always enquire as to the animal’s food chain status.

Signed out - Excluding the horse from human consumption

Section nine IX of a horse passport allows the owner to declare whether the horse is intended for the food chain or not. The horse may also be signed out by necessity if a veterinary medicine is administered which is not authorised for food-producing animals – as is the case in our pictorial example below.


Horses opted out of the food chain can be prescribed all licenced veterinary medicines authorised for both food and non-food producing horses, including all wormers. The details of all vaccines administered must still be recorded in Sections V and VI of the passport by the prescribing vet, but there are no other record keeping requirements for the vet or you as the animal owner/keeper.

DEFRA encourages owners to think carefully before they sign their animal out of the food chain. Once signed this declaration can never be reversed and they warn ‘this may limit the disposal options when the horse reaches the end of its life’. Something which may or may not be an additional consideration for us all.

Are you going to opt out?

There is much we could say to malign the passport scheme, as anyone who remembers the Findus lasagne saga will know, but for all the system isn’t perfect, it is law. Offences under the Horse Passport Regulations attract fines of up to £5,000. What we are urging you to do is to know your options and to make informed decisions for the horses in your care to ensure you comply with the law. She says rushing off to sign section IX for a recent acquisition!

Addendum 5/2/16

A query was raised on the Westgate Labs Facebook page about whether signing section IX would also prevent the horse going into the pet food chain. This opened up a really interesting line of enquiry. It is not the VMD but the Food Standard's Agency who are responsible where pet food is concerned. By law animal products intended for pet food are subject to the same requirements as human food (classified category 3) - they have to be fit for human consumption even if they are not intended so and therefore a horse signed out of section IX (9) cannot be used in the pet food industry either.

In addition there is also a current policy in the UK not to use horse meat for pet food. This is a commercial decision by the manufacturers and so is subject to change at their discretion.

More information from the Government's Veterinary Medicines Directorate

Wormers for use in food producing horses and their withdrawal periods

Wormers not to be used in horses and ponies intended for human consumption

Bimectin 34 days


Animec 34 days

Telmin Granules

Maximec 21 days

Panacur Oral Suspension

Strongid P 0 days

Panacur Equine granules

Telmin Paste 6 months

Panacur Equine Guard

Eqvalan Duo 30 Days

Panacur Oral paste

Eqvalan Paste 21 Days


Vectin Paste 34 days


Equimax 35 days


Eraquell paste 30 days


Eraquell tabs 35 days


Equest Oral Gel 32 days


Equest Pramox 64 days


Equitape 0 days


Noromectin 34 days


Noropraz 35 days


Source: all wormers licenced for Equine use found in the NOAH 2015 and Norbrook 2015/2016 product compendiums