Food production is a complex process, with the ultimate objective of the food industry and food safety regulators being to ensure that food reaching the consumer is safe and wholesome. Food generally expected to be safe may become unsafe due to the introduction of hazards during production, processing, storage, transport, or final preparation for consumption. For food derived from animals, the hazard may originate from a number of these and other sources including the consumption by food production animals of contaminated food.
In recent years public concern about the safety of foods of animal origin has heightened due to problems arising from bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), dioxin contamination, outbreaks of food-borne bacterial infections, as well as growing concern about veterinary drug residues and antimicrobial resistance in micro-organisms.
These problems have drawn attention to feeding practices within the livestock industry and have prompted a close scrutiny of food safety and quality problems that can arise in foods of animal origin as a result of animal feed, forage and associated feeding systems.
Animal feed or forage may be the source of a number of infections for farm animals that can lead to human illness. These include Salmonella enterica, Toxoplasma gondii and Trichinella spiralis. Mycotoxin contamination of animal feed can result in foods of animal origin containing these chemical compounds. Pesticides, agricultural and industrial chemicals, heavy metals and radionuclides can all pollute animal feed and forage and may also result in contaminated food of animal origin.
Through the use of appropriate technology, the application of Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) and the careful handling of feedstuffs the means exist to minimise the contamination of animal feed and associated food safety and quality risks.