This year scientists published a study that aimed to quantify the amount of soy-based feed ingredients entering the United States. The article below summarizes that research and discusses its implications for the feed sector.
Why Is this research important?
What Is the impact of African Swine Fever virus (ASFv)?
African Swine Fever virus (ASFv) does not infect humans but does have the potential to devastate livestock and associated meat-processing industries.
The recent outbreak in China is forecast to reduce the country’s pork production by 35-40%1 according to the FAO. While in Europe, Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) predicts pork prices could drop by as much as 20-40% following the finding of an ASFv infected wild boar in Germany2.
It’s not just pig producers that feel the effects of such outbreaks. Upstream suppliers like feed manufacturers, and downstream meat processors, are forced to tighten their belts as consumer confidence falls and import bans are put in place.
Is Feed a Fomite for African Swine Fever virus (ASFv)?
A recent study by Patterson et al (2020), published in the Journal of Transboundary and Emerging Diseases, explains how the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is working hard to identify how and where the virus could enter the country, and how to best prevent it’s spread, if or when, it arrives on American soil.
The authors explain how the USDA’s initial focus centered on “the illegal entry of pork products along with travelers from ASFv-positive countries” but that, on the back of growing scientific evidence, imported feed ingredients are gaining recognition as a potential source of contamination.
Research, cited by Patterson et al, have established pigs can contract ASFv after eating contaminated feed as well as the viral load required for infection.
In a study that simulated the shipping of feed ingredients from Eastern Europe to the US, scientists proved African Swine Fever virus survived in feed ingredients for at least 30 days. Other researchers supported this finding, reporting a half-life of the virus in soya-based products ranging between 9.6 and 12.4 days in their studies.
A Summary of Patterson et al (2020) Research
How and where is potentially ASFv-contaminated feed entering the United States?
Using data from the International Trade Commission Harmonized Tariff Schedule and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Patterson et al found 8 types of soya-based commodities with potential to be included in pig rations.
In 2018 the United States imported 104,707 metric tonnes from eight countries, identified as being “high-risk areas for potential ASFv contamination of feed”. At 52.6%, the majority of that high-risk tonnage was imported from China. 42.8% came from the Ukraine. The Chinese feed ingredients generally entered the US through the same ports, while the Ukrainian soy-products had more varied points of entry.
Discussion: Preventing outbreaks of African Swine Fever virus in the United States
The authors go on to discuss the limitations and impacts of their research and how, despite the many benefits, increased globalization of agricultural trade commodities increases the risk of foreign animal diseases entering the United States. Crucially, they talk of the “growing body of evidence regarding the ability of foreign animal disease pathogens such as ASFv to survive in feed”.
At Anitox we’ve have been working for decades to build a portfolio of products that effectively protect feed from pathogens. We understand the far-reaching implications of contaminated feed, not just to livestock producers but to whole supply chain.
The authors emphasize the need for “swine feed ingredients imported into the United States from endemically infected countries to be treated with increased scrutiny and caution.” They say this task is an “immeasurable challenge” due to the sheer volume of soy-based products entering the United States through a vast number of ports.
We disagree. This challenge is not “immeasurable”. We have solutions proven to control feed-borne pathogens including the African Swine Fever virus. We have the technical expertise, and have facilitated the efficient and effective treatment of feed ingredients in feed mills across the globe.
We do, however, agree with and welcome the authors ambition to “continue to stimulate communication and collaboration between the feed and livestock industries,” and share their visions for ‘global feed security’.
Through our platform, Anitox Insight, we’re already contributing to another of the authors’ desired outcomes, “enhanced accuracy of risk assessments”. Monitoring everything from feed pathogen load to pellet durability, it gives feed producers detailed information on their feed quality and biosecurity.
Our research and development programs are Anitox’s contribution to the “continual development of efficacious feed-based mitigation strategies” – another goal of Patterson et al. In recent months, for example, we’ve successfully supported the development of CRISPR-SeroSeq tool. With the ability to pinpoint small populations of salmonella, as well as the serotype, it’s potential role in effective feed-based mitigation strategies is huge.
We’d like to thank Patterson and their team for the valuable contribution they’ve made to a safer food chain and for facilitating this discussion.
To read the full study, click here.