AGA IN ACTION
How to make feed safer?
Eating products of animal origin it is not only eating meat, fish, eggs or milk; it is also absorbing what the animals have themselves ingested. It is, therefore, useful to control the safety and quality of the feed given to the animals to prevent that hazardous substances enter into the food chain and affect human health.
Contaminated feed has often resulted in food of animal origin being recalled and/or destroyed with significant economic losses for the livestock industries and a negative impact on food security. This was, for instance, the case when in 2008 dioxin found in pork from Ireland exposed consumers to dioxin up to 2 000 times over the safety limits; in that case, economic losses to the sector were estimated at over 1 billion USD.
The global annual production of animal feed amounts to 720 million tonnes, with a value of approximately 300 billion USD. Economic interests at stake are huge: while the Codex Alimentarius indications are not binding for countries and industry, they are considered as a reference by the World Trade Organization in case of trade disputes.
The need to increase livestock production to meet the growing demand of food of animal origin worldwide has prompt the feed industry to use many newly available products deriving from the agro-industry (for instance biofuel production and processing). A thorough control of these news products is necessary to prevent new hazardous substances entering into the food chain through the animal feed with a potential negative impact on human health.
Over 130 technical experts, senior governmental administrators and researches from 45 countries met in Berne (Switzerland) from 20 to 24 February 2012 to contribute to the overall efforts of ensuring that animal feeding is not harmful for human health. More specifically, the participants in the meeting of the recently re-established Ad-hoc Codex Inter-governmental Task Force on Animal Feeding worked to provide guidance on animal feed risk assessment at national level and on the prioritization of feed hazards. The work of the Codex Task Force, hosted by Switzerland, contributes to the international efforts to protect more efficaciously the human health from the risk arising from the presence of hazardous substances in animal feed and to ensure fair practices in the international trade in animal feed.
The new requirements on animal feed will eventually be inserted in the "Codex Alimentarius", the collection of food standards, guidelines and related texts such as codes of practices agreed at international level by the 185 members of the Codex Alimentarius Commission which was established in 1963 by the United Nations for the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Health Organization (WHO).
The meeting in Berne was the sixth of the Task Force on Animal Feeding, which had previously developed the Codex Code of Practices on Good Animal Feeding, adopted by the Codex Alimentarius Commission in 2004.