Health Canada warns farmers to stop using "purple spray"

Often prescribed for curing thrush and other fungal infections of humans and a common ingredient in foot and hoof treatments for livestock, Health Canada has come out and said gentian violet increases the risk of cancer and is urging everyone — farmers included — to stop using any products that include the ingredient.

Following a safety review, Health Canada says exposure to human health products and veterinary drugs containing gentian violet may increase the risk of cancer, and is advising Canadians to stop using all human and veterinary drug products containing the product.

Health Canada’s review was triggered by the World Health Organization’s Codex Alimentarius Commission’s recommendation on the potential risk of cancer associated with veterinary drug residues in foods, including gentian violet. After completing two safety assessments, Health Canada concluded that, as with other known cancer causing substances, there is no safe level of these products, and therefore any exposure to these products is a potential cause for concern.

Health Canada urges Canadians to stop using all drug products that contain gentian violet, including on animals. Products for humans should be returned to a pharmacy for proper disposal. Animal owners can discuss options for the safe disposal of their products with their veterinarians or local pharmacies, the department says.

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