The Transmission

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Protecting Public and Animal Health through Animal Feed

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Faculty and staff at the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine and the Center for Animal Health and Food Safety (CAHFS) are working on a project that will provide animal food manufacturers with an easy way to identify the most likely hazards that could occur in the various ingredients they use to make their products.

Eventually our work could help ensure a safer food supply for pets and food animals, which would also help to ensure food safety and public health,” says Dr. Carie Alexander, a Veterinary Public Health and Preventive Medicine resident at CAHFS. “While we don’t think of the safety of the human food supply when we think of our pets, hazards in pet food, such as Salmonella, have been transferred to pet owners, and thus can pose a public health threat.”

In 2011, President Barack Obama signed the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), which includes Preventive Controls for Animal Food regulations. These regulations require animal food manufacturers to develop a safety plan and assess the potential severity that would result if a particular hazard were to enter one of their ingredients or products. 

Dutch rabbit eating bowl of feedThe new regulations became effective November 15, 2015, and companies have been given between two to four years, depending on their size, to comply with the law. Prior to the FMSA, companies were not required to have safety plans, although many of the larger businesses already had similar plans in place as well as good manufacturing practices and may just need to adjust them to meet the new requirements, according to Dr. Jessica Evanson, Veterinary Public Health and Preventive Medicine resident at CAHFS.

The project, Hazard Analysis in Feed Ingredients for FSMA Compliance, is funded by the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA) and its foundation, Institute for Feed Education & Research (IFEEDER), and the National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) and its foundation the National Grain and Feed Foundation. In addition to Alexander and Evanson, the research team includes Dr. Tim Goldsmith; Tim Boyer, Ph.D.; Fernando Sampedro, Ph.D.; veterinary medical librarian Andre Nault; project coordinator Sarah Summerbell; animal science graduate students Joey Mielke and Michaela Trudeau; and veterinary students Casey Pawelk, Elizabeth Prescott, and Kristine Woerheide.

“The purpose of this project is to first identify hazards that can affect animals through the consumption of animal food, and second to determine whether these hazards can be transferred into human food products,” says Evanson.

chicken at feed bowlThe team hopes to offer manufacturers of animal food, which includes both livestock feed and pet food, an interactive database that allows them to identify potential hazards, such as aflatoxin in corn or Salmonella in dog food, and gives them a way to identify and prioritize potential hazards for their individual facility.   

To build the database, the team conducted a literature search of 63 known hazards created by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and supplied by AFIA, and then added others discovered during the process. A review of more than 9,000 potential articles resulted in 89 relevant papers resulting in 554 entries, each representing a documented occurrence of a hazard in animal food. In addition to the literature review, the team included FDA recalls and enforcement report entries related to animal food that occurred since 2009.

The resulting interactive database could provide animal food manufacturers the science-based input they need to support hazard identification in the development of their food safety plans.


Story by Fran Howard