Emerging feed resources

Research & Innovation is continuously offering emerging or underused feed resources (former foodstuffs, insects, algae, single cell protein, processed animal proteins), which may make a contribution for the sustainable development of the EU feed & livestock chain. Their potential use does require a comprehensive risk assessment, covering animal health, human health and the environment to ensure their safe use 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 feed 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, contributing to the circular economy.

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 emerging or alternative feed resources, as was the case in 2015 for the safety of insects as animal feed.

Circular economy practices are going to be promoted across the feed and food chain (and non-food sectors like renewable energies) and this requires a review of certain restrictions currently in place. Some potential feed resources have indeed been subject to legal prohibitions at a certain point in time, due to unmanageable risks. This was the case of certain Processed Animal Proteins whose use in food producing animals was banned in 2001 in the wake of the BSE crisis.

Some of these restrictions were decided at a time when technology, traceability and auto-control capabilities were not yet at the level of efficiency and accuracy which they reached in the meantime. The re-authorisation of non-ruminant PAPs in fish feed in 2013 and the re-authorisation of porcine PAPs in poultry feed and vice versa in 2021 was approved at EU level after a thorough risk assessment and evaluation of the efficiency of improved risk management tools.

However, there are still a number of restrictions on the use of certain materials in feed for food producing animals: catering reflux, ruminant PAPs or nutrients such as phosphorous recovered from urban waste waters, which are prohibited in accordance with Annex III of EU Regulation 767/2009 on the Marketing of Feed. Like in the case of avian and porcine PAPs, there may be certain cases where regulatory restrictions may no longer be risk-proportionate and necessary to guarantee a high level of feed and food safety. FEFAC is therefore in favour of a pro-active re-evaluation of the need to maintain these restrictions provided a number of conditions are met:

  • An updated in-depth risk assessment by EFSA;
  • Responsibility and commitment of operators to preserve feed safety & product integrity, in particular via the development and implementation of  transparent feed safety assurance schemes;
  • Strict supervision by competent  control authorities with ad-hoc control tools (fitness for purpose of analytical means);
  • Social acceptance issues (intra-species recycling, ethical concerns);
  • Proportionate risk management measures regarding conditions of use.