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IN ACTION

Codex Committee on Contaminants in Food addresses feed safety

 

The role of animal feed in the production of safe food is recognized worldwide. Unfortunately, several critical incidents in the last years have underlined its impact on public and animal health, feed and food trade, and food security.

 

Work on the application of the risk analysis framework provided by Codex in the field of animal feeding has facilitated the further understanding of the role of animal feed safety on public health and of the importance of risk-based measures to prevent and control hazards. Hazards may be introduced with source materials, or via carry-over, or through the contamination of feed during handling, storage and transportation. Hazards associated with feed are biological, chemical and physical agents such pathogenic microorganisms, mycotoxins, heavy metals, dioxins, dibenzofurans and PCBs, residues of veterinary drugs and pesticides, and radionuclides.

 

In many countries sufficient awareness and know-how to ensure feed safety are lacking, but also where more knowledge is available and control systems are in place, new and unconventional feed ingredients are entering the production chain (e.g. agro-industrial by-products as the ones of the biofuel industry; insect; food processing by-products; and food wastes), and with them, possibly new safety risks.

 

The Codex Alimentarius, a set of international food standards, guidelines and codes of practice to contribute to food safety and fairness of international food trade, addresses feed safety in a specific manner through the Code of Practice on Good Animal Feeding, the Guidance on the Application of Risk Assessment for Feed and the Guidance on Prioritization of Hazards in Feed. However, Codex work on animal feeding is also carried out through various Committees, according to their mandate.

 

To raise awareness on the implications of feed safety for the food chain and on the importance of addressing it whenever necessary, FAO organized a side event during the 8th Session of the Codex Committee on Contaminants in Food, last 2 April in the Hague, the Netherlands. It was attended by around 100 participants from countries as diverse as Canada, Nigeria, Egypt, Jamaica, Iran, Cuba, Brazil, Norway, Japan, etc.

 

FAO, Codex, the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA), the Government of the Netherlands, the International Feed Industry Federation (IFIF) and Nestle’, together with the participants, addressed themes of interest such as: risk assessment on contaminants in feed, the feed industry initiatives to ensure feed safety, the need of the food industry for safe supply, the role of capacity development.

 

The lively discussing during the event highlighted that there is a strong need for all parties to collaborate to get ensure feed and food safety and to obtain citizens trusts; it is valuable for intergovernmental organizations, governmental officers and all operators to participate in the work of Codex Committees that can address feed related issues to ensure that feed safety is properly addressed; it is also important for Codex and FAO/WHO Committees to call for information and data on feed contamination, whenever relevant; finally, there was also a strong call for greater attention to advocacy and dissemination of knowledge on feed safety to Codex Committees’ participants.