Novel feed resources

Research & Innovation is continuously offering promising emerging or underused feed resources (insects, algae, single cell protein, processed animal proteins), which may make a contribution for the sustainable development of the EU feed chain. Their potential use does require a comprehensive risk-assessment before any decision to allow their introduction in the feed chain.

The increasing global demand for food of animal origin and the development of new processing technology for non-feed/food uses for crops, provides a strong incentive for feed manufacturers to test alternative resources which have not (yet) been fully explored. This includes a wide product range including former foodstuffs, algae, insects and a larger variety of other co-products from different food and non-food industries.

A key prerequisite for any potential feed use of such products is the establishment of detailed risk-profiles. FEFAC recommends to all chain partners and research institutes to carry out comprehensive risk assessments to ensure that the safety status can be guaranteed at each stage of the chain. National Risk Assessments bodies and EFSA can play a very important role in the process of establishing the risk profiles of these novel or alternative feed resources, as was the case in 2015 for the safety of insects as animal feed.

Other feed resources have been subject to legal prohibitions at a certain point in time, due to unmanageable risks. This is the case in particular of certain Processed Animal Proteins whose use in food producing animals were banned in 2001 in the wake of the BSE crisis. FEFAC remains supportive of a stepwise lifting of the EU feed ban, based on positive risk assessments delivered by EFSA. The re-authorisation of pig PAPs in poultry feed and vice-versa is listed among the policy initiatives of the EU Farm To Fork strategy, as the next step after their re-authorisation in fish feed in 2013.

Based on this experience with fish feed, FEFAC shared its technical impact assessment with the EU Commission services, highlighting three important parameters that will weigh on the ability of the feed industry to re-use these PAPs:

  • The acceptance by downstream partners of the chain, from livestock farmers to consumers;
  • The legal requirements in terms of specialization of production lines (e.g. feed mills using PAPs from poultry in pig feed should produce neither ruminant nor poultry feed);
  • The calibration of analytical control tools, considering in particular the use of DNA as an indicator of presence of prohibited PAPs, although DNA can be also present in lawfully permitted products such as milk.

Other feed resources continue to remain prohibited today in the EU for use in feed for food-producing farm animals and fish. This is the case of the use of  ruminant processed animal proteins and catering waste, so-called swill feeding. Swill feeding practices still allowed outside of the EU are considered a significant pathway for the spread of viruses such as African Swine Fever, and Classical Swine fever next to direct contamination by wild animals. This ban was introduced in 2002 in the EU and has been by far the most effective measure taken in the EU to avoid dissemination of viruses via the feed route.