Feed additives are essential constituents of a feed for the technological, sensory, nutritional or zootechnical function they exert. A modernization of the EU legal framework is urgently required to assist the feed and livestock sector to further improve its sustainability.
Feed additives are in many aspects intrinsic constituents of a compound feed. They contribute to optimized use of resources by facilitating homogeneity of the mixture (e.g. emulsifiers), the density and durability of a pellet (binders) or preserving fatty material or vitamins from oxidation (antioxidants). They can also stimulate the appetite of animals (flavourings) or balance the diet in essential nutrients like vitamins, amino acids and trace-elements. The zootechnical additives like microorganisms facilitate digestion and contribute to reduce emissions in the environment. Advances in animal nutrition sciences have identified many new applications for feed additives including new promising functionalities which support animal welfare and the physiological status of animals to help them cope with pathogens, thus reducing the need for the use of antibiotics at farm level.
Feed additives, whose producers are represented among others by FEFANA, EMFEMA, IMA-Europe or Animal Health Europe, are subject to pre-authorisation further to submission of an application by an operator of the feed chain, often the feed additive supplier, alone or in consortia. The applicant must in particular demonstrate that the product is safe for the species which the feed additive is intended to, for the consumer of the animal products, for the operator handling the substance and for the environment. In addition, the applicant must also provide evidence of the ability of the substance to fulfil its function, what is called in regulatory jargon the efficacy. The authorisations are delivered for a period of 10 years, subject to renewal.
The current EU Feed additive Regulation (EC) No 1831/2003 has now reached its limits and requires a serious REFIT to ensure that it can deliver on some of the key objectives set out in the EU Farm to Fork communication (Climate change & AMR reduction & Nutrient management). FEFAC has highlighted the following key challenges in the REFIT consultation on EU Regulation (EC) No 1831/2003:
- How to secure authorization of generic feed additives, in particular technological and nutritional feed additives? The situation is critical for minor uses and for certain functional groups such as antioxidants with only a few substances left.
- How to stimulate innovation in areas of high political importance such as reduction of the needs for antimicrobial treatment, animal welfare or reduction of environment emissions? No single feed additive has yet been authorised for these functions, due in particular to the unpredictable outcome of the evaluation process.
- How to reduce dependency on third countries for the supply of feed additives? The EU remains highly dependent on third countries for the supply of certain essential feed additives, in particular vitamins.