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N&H TOPLINE: Conversations explore feed chain safety

Feed safety and feed hygiene taking center stage in efforts to control pathogens, including African swine fever and salmonella.

With African swine fever cases surging in China and Europe, past history with porcine epidemic diarrhea virus in pigs and the near constant threat of contamination with salmonella and other pathogenic bacteria in feed, many in the animal feed industries are concerned about feed safety and feed hygiene.

At the recent Allen D. Leman Swine Conference, discussions took place on potential mitigation protocols to reduce the risk of African swine fever introduction into the U.S.

At Kansas State University, Cassie Jones, an associate professor in the department of animal sciences and industry, said while feed and ingredients are not the most likely sources of foreign animal disease introduction and transmission, they are a documented vector for disease. Thus, the extension of on-farm biosecurity practices to the feed mill is important.

“We have made updates to the ‘Feed Safety Resources’ link on KSUSwine.org to answer producer questions about African swine fever virus in feed,” Jones said.

Jones added that a frequently asked questions document on the website explains that an ingredient may be high risk for foreign animal disease transmission based on its geographic, agricultural and transportation practices.

Also, the website http://bit.ly/KSUFeedSafetyResources includes a biosecurity audit for producers to use for suppliers or in their own facilities to help identify the risk of the disease entering into feed.

Feed manufacturing conference

Meanwhile, Kemin Industries, a global nutritional ingredient company, recently hosted a conference on improving the safety, efficiency and profitability of feed mill operations.

A panel of five safety and processing experts led the event with feed mill operators in attendance from more than 25 countries representing Africa, North America, South America, Asia and Europe, Kemin said.

“Few symposiums provide in-depth discussion on feed safety, yet it’s a critical topic for our industry. Feed manufacturers across the world are becoming increasingly more attentive to feed safety,” Kemin Industries president and chief executive officer Dr. Chris Nelson said. “To secure production of safe food, all parties involved in the feed-to-food chain need to be responsive. This conference equipped attendees with tools they can use to improve feed safety in a profitable way.”

The panelists provided educational, practical and business-focused insights that can be put in place to ensure the production of safe feed.

For example, Dr. Adam Fahrenholz from North Carolina State University set the scene of food safety in relation to raw materials. Food safety issues can originate from a physical, chemical or biological hazard, he said, noting that a complete raw material quality program should encompass these three hazard risks.

According to Fahrenholz, biological hazards from bacterial contamination, such as salmonella, are worthy of receiving significant attention from the industry during a hazard analysis. Feed mills cannot take poor-quality ingredients and make them better. A small variation in raw material quality can have a significant impact on the bottom line of an integration or feed supplier.

Feed mills should have a strong quality program in place with well-documented specifications, Fahrenholz said. Feed mills should rigorously follow the inspection program when checking the quality of all arriving raw materials. All employees involved need to receive training on the quality assurance program and understand the implications, he added.

Ir. Juan Acedo-Rico González of Acedo-Rico & Asociados SL in Spain discussed quality, efficiency and feed safety as the main targets for obtaining competitive advantages for efficient manufacturing processes. He conducted an analysis of these three main challenges involved in feed manufacturing and presented tools to improve feed operation efficiency while maximizing quality, hygiene and feed safety.

González stressed the importance of process cost control, losses recovery, operator training, feed safety and feed formulation adjustment during feed production. He said overall management and safe manufacturing is key to managing feed safety. González explained that quality, efficiency and feed safety always move in the same direction.

Dr. Luis Conchello of Kemin Animal Nutrition and Health—Europe shared how efficient feed processing can result in profitable and safe feed. He explained the fundamentals of the Kemin millSMART Feed Processing & Feed Safety Program and its role in risk management and process control.

Conchello said the program uses specific antimicrobial products and dispersing solutions that have powerful surface-active agents to provide uniform dispersion and penetration of the antimicrobials. To further optimize feed processing for feed safety, Kemin has developed a proprietary nozzle technology to increase application homogeneity and online control technology to decrease process variability.

Conchello also described how pelleting under these optimized conditions has a positive effect on feed hygiene, press performance and pellet quality. He provided an overview of “Optimum Safety Matrix” and “Press Biosecurity Unit” and reviewed field experiences on effective cooling for feed safety, productivity and quality.

Prof. dr. ir. Mieke Uyttendaele from Ghent University approached the salmonella topic from the food microbiologist perspective. Surveys have indicated that “food poisoning from bacteria” is top of mind when customers are asked about their food safety concerns.

Campylobacter and salmonella are the most reported foodborne diseases, and salmonella is the bacteria most often linked to severe infections that may lead to hospitalization and even death. Eggs, meat and bakery products are the most common sources of salmonella contamination.

Salmonella is a versatile organism that can easily survive in dry conditions as well as in the lipid fraction of feed and food. Despite control measures producers have in place to eliminate the presence of salmonella, it is important to note that an absolute absence does not exist, Uyttendaele said. Every operation should evaluate the needed control measures to ensure safety is reached.

Dr. Erwin Witters, Worldwide Customer Laboratory Services (CLS) coordinator for Kemin Animal Nutrition & Health—Europe, spoke about the prevalence of salmonella. He opened the talk on the limitations of microbiological tests.

Salmonella is not homogeneously present in feed and raw materials, which makes sample taking challenging, Witters said. In addition, the level of contamination determines the number of samples to be taken from a lot. If a lot is highly contaminated, the probability of identifying the contamination is high. If the contamination is very low, more samples are needed to secure pickup of the contamination, he noted. It all comes down to the necessary sensitivity.

Witters noted that laboratory analyses confirm that feed raw materials and mash feed have the highest salmonella prevalence. In pelleted feed, the salmonella prevalence is generally reduced, but recontamination can occur.

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