• Posted by Bobby Acord

Could Local Sourcing Help Control Feed Ingredient Microbial Quality?

In the wake of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it has become clear that disease outbreaks are not one-off incidents. Our food industry will continue to face challenges in an increasingly interconnected world with a growing population.

Given my previous role as Administrator of USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service from 2001 and 2004, I have first-hand knowledge of the complexity of trade and the potential for feed and feed ingredients to serve as vectors of pathogens.

Animal feed and associated raw materials must be critical control points early in the food supply chain.  That’s why I was delighted to participate in Anitox’s webinar series this week. We had a lively discussion about trade and how the food industry must find ways to keep trade flowing without compromising safety.

Feed ingredients come from all over the world and a growing body of research by leading academics shows that feed is a fomite for foodborne pathogens. No ingredient is without pathogen risk. Viruses, in particular, can survive in feed for long periods of time, rendering holding times just as ineffective as they are impractical. And the fact that materials are ‘clean’ on the day of testing isn’t enough; there are numerous opportunities for re-contamination in the lifecycle of a feed or feed ingredient, which means residual pathogen protection is critical too.

Trade remains fundamental to our collective prosperity, health and environmental sustainability. The good news is that the agriculture and food industry has tools at its disposal to prevent pathogen transmission at the earliest stages of our food supply chain. Those tools – and the expertise of organizations such as Anitox who understand feed source pathogens - can ensure feed is pathogen-free; they positively impact the productivity of our agricultural industry, improving livestock performance and long-term profitability. In summary, livestock health is critical to our collective economic, health and environmental well-being. The food industry, together with corporate stakeholders and regulators, must continue to work collaboratively to ensure best practices and effective procurement policies are in place to prioritize public health and food security.