From farm to table: Part 2

by Emily Wilson
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Food and feed safety a concern for all, European feed group says

Food and feed safety is an issue facing not only members of the European Compound Feed Manufacturers Association (FEFAC) but feed manufacturers all over the world, according to Pat Lake, FEFAC president.

"There can be no doubt that food safety is an issue for the world, not just for the European Union or the United States," Lake said.

He noted that food safety will be even more important as world trade expands and as transportation between countries becomes easier.

"Livestock products are now traded around the world, and if it is decided that certain measures have to be taken in the E.U., then the same measures must be implemented in other countries if those countries want to export to the E.U.," Lake said. "Food safety will be hampered if different markets have different food safety regulations in place."

The globalization of feed safety issues will be dealt with to a large extent by the CODEX Task Force on Animal Feed, Lake said, "but it will be the commercial world that will really take these issues and those of food safety forward."

Any food safety legislation must based on sound science, Lake stressed. "It is important that such legislation gets to the heart of food safety matters and not, as we have seen in the E.U., legislators and decision-makers wasting so much time over the issue of percentage declaration of animal feeds, which has nothing to do with the safety of feed or food," he said. "However, this does not stop the feed industry from cooperating with the authorities and farmers to find ways for improving transparency or the information on feed composition in a meaningful way."

FEFAC recently revised its 1998 "Guidelines for the Implementation of a Code of Practice," which are based on HAACP principles and which cover facilities and equipment, purchase and delivery, feed formulation, production, transportation and storage, and recordkeeping.

"Feed manufacturers in the E.U. and their suppliers now have the tools and advice to get on with the job and should not only be in advance of, but will go beyond, the coming legislation," Lake said.

The European compound feed industry in 1999 produced 122 million tonnes of the 323 million tonnes of feed consumed annually by farm animals in the E.U., which in turn fed over 300 million E.U. consumers, according to FEFAC statistics.

"We in the feed industry and our colleagues in the livestock industry should be proud of what we have achieved to bring affordable food to the plates of our citizens," Lake said. "But we now need to take that further step to put in place those measures which will satisfy the food consumers of the sincerity of all of us in the livestock chain."

Genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, also remains an important issue in Europe, Lake said. Although the issue has yet to directly affect E.U. feed manufacturers, it will affect the industry at some time, he said.

"The E.U. feed industry has found itself in the middle of something it did not start," Lake said. "The whole matter of GMOs is now very much under discussion with the regulatory authorities, various industry and trade groups and consumer organizations in the E.U. The effects of what Europe is thinking and doing is being felt in those countries like the United States where genetically modified products are being grown and are very much part of the farmer's crop planning."

Biotechnology will ultimately be accepted by consumers only when it is viewed as positive and of benefit to all mankind, Lake said.

"Where the future lies for GM material being acceptable and what regulations we will see in force we do not know, but without doubt, this technology will keep on advancing— hopefully to the benefit of a wider range of citizens around the world."