It is indisputably true that the feed sector is closely linked to food safety. Each and every step in the food chain is crucial and affects food safety. Feed safety is a primary concern for the whole world, indirectly affecting human health. On the other hand, feed safety has economic importance as well for feed producers and feed technology companies.
Livestock production and the consumption of animal products are crucial to the economic and nutritional well-being of millions of people around the world. Animal feed plays a leading role in producing safe and affordable animal proteins for a growing population.
Practices indicate that feed products can be contaminated with chemical and physical substances and biological agents. It depends on the used ingredients, the origin, and the production processes in the links in the chain. Animal feed has a leading role in the global food sector and it is the most important and largest component to ensure the sustainable production of safe and affordable animal proteins.
Rapidly growing populations, bearing increased urbanization and income in mind, is expected to increase the consumption of animal products by 70% in 2050. The increase in animal production will require an additional amount of feed to be produced. The challenge is not only to meet the growing demand for feed, but to ensure its safety.
Feed safety is a prerequisite for food safety and human health, as well as a necessity for animal health and welfare. It is a component of access to trade, income generation and economic sustainability. In addition, it contributes to feed and food security and decreases feed losses. In fact, feed is an integral part of the food chain and its safety has been recognized as a shared value and a shared responsibility. Feed production must thus be subject, in a similar manner as food production, to the quality assurance of integrated food safety systems.
The role of animal feed in the production of safe food is recognized worldwide, and several critical incidents have underlined its impact on public and animal health, feed and food trade, and food security. For instance, the following are all related to animal feeding: Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy; Foot-and-Mouth Disease; dioxin, mycotoxin, E.coli O157:H7 contaminations; and the development of antimicrobial resistance.
In many countries adequate know-how and sufficient awareness are lacking to ensure feed safety among all operators along the whole value chain. Even where more knowledge is available and control systems are in place, new and unconventional feed ingredients are entering the production chain e.g. agro-industrial by-products (such as the ones of the biofuel industry), insects, food processing by-products, food wastes, etc., and with them, possibly new safety risks.
We asked the sense of feed safety and its close to relation with food safety to an expert. Elaine Vanier, Animal Welfare & Animal Feed Program Lead at NSF International, one of the leading US health organizations, explained what needs to be done by industrialists to ensure feed safety and the duties of the farmers.
Please click to read Elaine VANIER’s article.