Minimising the risk of incidental dissemination of pathogens is everybody’s business: farmers, agro-supply industry, grain collectors and farm visitors (advisors, service providers, etc).
Outbreaks of pathogenic diseases are not new but internationalization of trade and personnel mobility are factors that increase the risk of dissemination of pathogens sometimes over long distances. The most effective way to minimize the risk is with the strict implementation of biosecurity measures along the chain.
The nature of the measures to be taken depends on a number of parameters specific to the individual feed company e.g. its geographic location, the type of feed produced (species), the origin and nature of feed ingredients used, etc. This means that each company individually must develop its own biosecurity plan based on its own risk assessment. FEFAC released in 2019 professional Recommendations for the drafting of a biosecurity plan in feed mills to stimulate the uptake of good biosecurity practices in the feed chain.
Biosecurity is defined as « a set of preventive measures designed to reduce the risk of transmission of infectious diseases in crops and livestock, quarantined pests, invasive alien species, and living modified organisms » (Koblentz, 2010). As far as a feed compounder is concerned, this means controlling his feed ingredient supply chain for the microbiological risk and ensuring that his activities (manufacturing, storage, transport) do not contribute to the dissemination of pathogens from feed mill to farm, from farm to farm and from farm to feed mill.
Certain viruses or micro-organisms whether relevant for animal health or not (e.g. SARS CoV-2) may also be pathogenic for humans. Biosecurity is therefore also about measures meant to minimize the risk for personnel working in feed mills, drivers, farmers, visitors of feed mills like controllers, etc.
Pathogens may be disseminated through different pathways, i.e. primarily through contacts with infected wild animals or with humans or via fomites such as trucks, packaging material, clothes etc. Oral transmission of pathogens (e.g. Salmonella, viruses) via feeding or drinking was also demonstrated.
Whenever feed can be a vector of transmission of a pathogen, this is covered by the EU Feed hygiene legislation (Regulation (EC) No 183/2005). This regulation requires a risk-based approach to manage the risk of dissemination of any pathogen via feed: guides to good practice have been developed at EU and national level to help operators implementing prerequisite programmes and HACCP-based procedures for the control of hazards in feed.