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SHIC-funded feed risk studies lead to stakeholder meetingSHIC-funded feed risk studies lead to stakeholder meeting

Meeting sets priorities for research and investigation into feed transmission risk and mitigation.

July 26, 2018

4 Min Read
SHIC-funded feed risk studies lead to stakeholder meeting

In May 2017, the Swine Health Information Center (SHIC) released information from a study it funded showing the potential for viruses to contaminate and survive in feed ingredients. These surprising findings led to ongoing research on transmission potential and mitigation, SHIC said.

A meeting of stakeholders — including representatives of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food & Drug Administration, universities, industry organizations, producers, the feed processing industry and SHIC — was held in June 2018. The objective of the meeting, hosted by SHIC and the National Pork Board, was to review current government policies and regulations and to make recommendations about research to help reduce the risk for pathogen transmission via feed and feed ingredients. A report from the meeting can be read here.

SHIC said in addition to the prioritization of next steps, the stakeholder representatives heard updates from companies and federal agencies engaged in parallel work. FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine and USDA’s Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) both have regulatory authority related to feed safety. Also, USDA’s Center for Epidemiology & Animal Health will help with a review of the scientific literature and will bring experts together to discuss risk.

SHIC is funding university and production company-related research to help define feed risk. Feed processing companies are also contributing to the body of work to help identify feed transmission risk and investigate mitigation. Programs were described and outcomes discussed during the meeting, SHIC said, adding that details are included in the meeting report.

At the conclusion of the stakeholder meeting, a prioritized set of next steps for research or investigation was developed and includes:

  1. Mitigation via verifiable controls. The action with the highest priority -- mitigation -- could include programs for verification of feed component safety prior to shipment from a foreign country. Possible methods discussed and recommended were blockchain testing and traceability as well as preventative controls for animal food.

  2. Active foreign animal disease (FAD) monitoring at ports or importing countries. Active monitoring of imported feed components was ranked second by the stakeholder group. Monitoring for FADs and other transboundary pathogens at ports of entry, or before shipment from source countries, was discussed. Participants agreed that this monitoring should be done at a foreign facility prior to shipment to the U.S.

  3. Minimum and median infective dose of classical swine fever (CSF), pseudorabies virus (PRV), Senecavirus A (SVA) and foot and mouth disease (FMD) during normal feeding behaviors. Determining the minimum and median infective dose of the key swine diseases CSF, PRV and FMD during normal feeding behaviors was named an essential need. Using a National Pork Board grant, this is being done for African swine fever (ASF) at Kansas State University, where similar tests for CSF and PRV can take place. Work with FMD must occur at the Plum Island Animal Disease Center, where SHIC, the National Pork Board and USDA/APHIS are co-funding the project. In addition to the infective dose, mitigant effectiveness and survivability tests would be completed.

  4. Active domestic monitoring. This monitoring would involve surveys of feed processing mills to measure the incidence of different domestic production pathogens found in these facilities.

  5. Validation of environmental swab tools. Validation for dust sampling sensitivity would be conducted using different materials, from commercially available sheets to sponges, swabs, paint rollers and other tools.

  6. Detectability of other viruses via environmental monitoring. Research is needed to demonstrate the ability to detect viruses using environmental samples at various points in feed processing mills. Previously, environmental sampling has been shown to be useful for detection of porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) virus and SVA, and that work would be expanded.

  7. Tote contamination proof-of-concept. Valid ways to sample totes as they carry feed into the country could be to sample the dust of a tote before, during and after loading and after emptying to compare the sensitivity of dust sampling to taking feed samples at the same times.

  8. Rotavirus versus Enterobacteriaceae as an indicator of possible contamination. Enterobacteriaceae are used as an indicator organism for fecal contamination of feed components. This experiment would compare rotavirus — or some other enteric virus — to these bacteria to investigate if it would be a better indicator of viral contamination.

SHIC said stakeholders agreed that the goal should always be to prevent the introduction of FAD or transboundary pathogen from entering the U.S. Participating representatives of the groups agreed about the urgency to investigate, define and mitigate the risk because of its potential as a pathway and the threat it poses to the U.S. swine herd, SHIC said.

Funded by America's pork producers to protect and enhance the health of the U.S. swine herd, SHIC focuses its efforts on prevention, preparedness and response. As a conduit of information and research, SHIC encourages sharing of its publications and research for the benefit of swine health.

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