Feed Articles on Feed Safety

'Food safety' was one of many buzz phrases for 2005. As 2006 rolls forward, we can see that the attention focused on the safety of food is here to stay. The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act requires that pet foods, like human foods, be pure and wholesome, containing no harmful or deleterious substances.

Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the quality aspects of what they eat, as well as the quality of what they feed their beloved pets. One important aspect of food quality is the stability of the final product. Changes in physical, chemical or microbiological properties of food can be considered loss of stability. Water activity (Aw) is one of several important parameters that affect stability of foods.

Animal feed manufacture is a significant industry within the European Union as Table 1 demonstrates.

Food safety has been an emotive subject within parts of the European Union, with the media keen to pounce upon any opportunities to publicise adverse occurrences. This has led to newspaper headlines such as "3 million eggs a day may contain toxic drug trace" (Daily Mail, April 2004) or terms such as"Frankenstein Foods".

Efficient preservation of forages as silage requires minimizing losses during the aerobic, fermentation, storage and feedout phases. The main concern about silage losses is in cases where losses are large (20% or more); when silages are fed in warm, humid weather; when horizontal silos have a large surface area and feedout face; and in silages where fermentation was restricted (Ohyama et al., 1975; McGechan, 1990). While quality of the fermentation phase has in general been improved over the past years, the same cannot be said about aerobic stability of silages in the feedout phase (Honig et al., 1999). The improvements in silage fermentation quality, which prevent butyric acid and minimize the amount of acetic acid, have increased the risk of aerobically unstable silages (Wyss, 1999). This is why well-preserved silages are often considered to be more prone to aerobic deterioration than poorly fermented silages (Cai et al., 1999).

Animal nutrition in the European Union (EU) has been affected by several crises, such as the mad cow scandal (BSE), meat hormone residues, dioxin contamination, Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) and the concern about the use of antibiotics as performance enhancers.

Since the 1970s, animal production in EU has been under legal regulations aimed to enhance its safety and efficacy. However, during the last six years, issues such as BSE and others have put the sector in the mass media, which has made consumers less confident about consuming meat.

While the rest of the world rejoiced in millennium–induced fervor, the feed industry took a more serious view of the challenges that lay ahead. This industry—specifically the livestock production and feed milling sectors— has been battered by successive food scares. Consequently, consumers have lost confidence in the animal food industry’s ability to provide products that are free of contaminants, pathogenic microorganisms, residues, toxins, and other harmful compounds. Even in countries such as the US that have well-established industry and regulatory agencies, people have become skeptical of food companies. They are being perceived less as benevolent providers of sustenance and more as faceless multinational conglomerates. Therefore, the primary focus of the industry in the new millennium is twofold: restore consumer confidence and stem media hostilities while positioning itself firmly in the food chain. The good news is that it has the tools to accomplish these important objectives.