Code of Practice for Good Animal Feeding to counter health threat to humans from contaminated meat

A draft Code of Practice for Good Animal Feeding has been drawn up in response to food trade and health problems related to cases in which humans became ill after eating meat and animal products that may have been contaminated by food fed to the animals.

The new Code will ensure safer meat and animal products in the marketplace

The draft Code applies to feed manufacturing and to the use of all feeds, other than those consumed while grazing free-range. It specifies means to control pathogenic bacteria, mycotoxins (toxins produced by mould in feed), veterinary drug residues, pesticide residues, heavy metals and other possible contaminants in feeds.

Recent problems such as Salmonella enteritidis in animal products like eggs may be related to feed. An outbreak of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) - commonly referred to as "mad cow disease" - in cattle in several European countries and the possible link of BSE to a new variant of Creutzfeld-Jakob Disease (nv-CJD), a rare disease in humans, have also raised concerns about feed. If followed, the Code would also address the possible linkage between contaminated animal feed and BSE.

The draft Code was drawn up by an Expert Consultation on Animal Feeding and Food Safety, which met in Rome from 10 to 14 March in response to an initiative by FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf.

The primary objective of the Code is to encourage adherence to Good Manufacturing Practices during the production, harvesting, handling, storage, processing (however minimal), and distribution of feed for food-producing animals. A further objective is to encourage good feeding practices on the farm. The Code will now be referred to the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC), responsible since 1962 for the implementation of the Joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Programme. The CAC will be asked to consider the Code for adoption into the Codex Alimentarius, a body of standards, guidelines and other recommendations recognized by the World Trade Organization as meeting international trade requirements for food quality and safety.

The CAC was founded in response to worldwide recognition of the importance of international trade and the need to facilitate such trade, while at the same time ensuring the quality and safety of food for the world consumer. The Commission already has in effect codes of practice and recommendations that govern meat hygiene and the maximum residue limits for veterinary drugs and pesticides in food.The recommendations contained in the new Code of Practice for Good Animal Feeding will provide guidance in the production, processing and use of feedstuffs to assure better overall quality and safety of meat and animal products.

When followed, the Code of Practice for Good Animal Feeding will greatly increase control of quality and safety problems linked to animal feed and subsequently related to animal products consumed by humans. FAO encourages the feed industry to provide assistance to developing countries in order to support the implementation of improved feeding practices to facilitate food safety and trade.

15 May 1997

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