Through its many partnerships, the International Feed Industry Federation (IFIF) has experienced a busy year addressing feed safety, sustainability and feed-related environmental impacts.

IFIF comprises national and regional feed associations, feed-related organization and corporate members from around the world, representing more than 80% of feed production worldwide. It focuses on promoting the role of the feed industry as a sustainable, safe, nutritious and affordable component of the food chain.

This year, IFIF and its partners released the first-ever Global Feed Life Assessment (LCA) guidelines, which are viewed as an essential step to reducing the impact of livestock products on the environment. The group also responded to recommendations from the FAO and World Health Organization (WHO), expressing willingness to share data and work to raise awareness of regulators and the industry on the importance of feed safety.

Among its partners are the World Organization for Animal Health, the Codex Alimentarius Commission and the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), among other international bodies. IFIF and FAO have collaborated on a variety of projects over the last decade, having agreed to a memorandum of understanding in 2005.

“IFIF believes that only by working together with all stakeholders on the agri-chain can we ensure sustainable, safe, nutritious and affordable food for a growing world population,” said Joel Newman, 2016-17 chairman-elect and the American Feed Industry Association’s (AFIA) president and chief executive officer. “Looking ahead, IFIF is committed to continue to support the FAO initiatives on capacity development for feed safety, the LEAP partnership and the Global Agenda for Sustainable Livestock, as well joint efforts on feed and food safety at the Codex Alimentarius.”

LCA guidelines

IFIF, along with its partners, released in April the LCA guidelines that were developed by the Livestock Environmental Assessment and Performance Partnership (LEAP). The aim is to improve how the environmental impacts of the livestock industry are measured and assessed.

The guidelines provide practical and science-based recommendations to assess the environmental performance of feed supply chains, said Dr. Frank Mitloehner, professor at the University California Davis and former LEAP chairman.

“They carry an international scientific consensus based on the input of 20 international experts in the drafting process and a thorough international public review which took place ahead of this official release,” he said.

The next step is to develop practical tools for feed and livestock producers to reduce their environmental impact, IFIF said.

The guidelines can be accessed on the LEAP website:

“We took into account the main recommendations of the Product Environmental Footprint Guide published by the European Commission Common during the development of the FAO/LEAP Guidelines” said Ruud Tijssens, president of FEFAC, which also assisted in the LCA guideline development. “From a European perspective, the FAO/LEAP guidelines are therefore the logical and relevant starting point to develop a standard aligned with the recommendations of the European Commission.”

Feed safety

Feed safety is a major tenet of IFIF and is being addressed in multiple ways, including adoption of several guidelines in the Codex Alimentarius and the Global Animal Nutrition Program “Train the Trainer,” which was launched in November.

The pilot program was launched in Nigeria and is focused on increasing safety and feed quality at the production level in developing regions. It brought together more than 30 representatives from the Nigerian feed industries, who will then share the training with colleagues throughout the nation. It was supported by the Nigerian Institute of Animal Science and is based on the IFIF FAO Feed Manual of Good Practices for the Feed Industry.

The program reflects IFIF’s mission to promote science-based solutions and information sharing for the feed industry, as well as stimulate the adoption of international standards and global equivalency.

“IFIF now has the opportunity to evaluate the learnings from the pilot program in Nigeria, and based on that, take the program to other parts of the world to support, train and develop local feed industry to raise feed and food safety standards globally,” said Alexandra de Athayde, IFIF executive director.

Current laws in Nigeria are weak and some are without enforcement powers. But the nation is making steady progress on feed legislation to achieve international benchmarks for animal feed safety and human food safety, said Dr. Godwin Oyediji, registrar and chief executive of the Nigerian Institute of Animal Science.

“The industry is being mobilized to embrace the FAO/IFIF Code of Practice for Good Animal Feeding and other Codex standards on traceability, contaminants and HACCP,” he said.

This in part responds to the call from the Codex Task Force to put into action the codes and guidelines from the Codex Alimentarius. IFIF participated in a side event in July 2015 at the 38th session of the Codex Commission that was dedicated to feed safety and implementing Codex requirements.

Participants were updated on the latest scientific information on the food safety hazards associated with animal feed and presented the key findings, conclusions and recommendations of a FAO/WHO Expert Meeting that took place in Rome earlier this year.

Key findings included that hazards in feeds can have a risk for human health and negative impact on animal health, welfare and productivity. Prioritization of hazards is not feasible on the international level, but should be done at the county or regional level, with Codex guidance. Regular reviews of the hazards in feeds are needed, and risk management systems should adapt to changes, FAO/WHO said.

The groups said there is a need for generating data on feed contaminations and to develop sampling approaches and plans. The collection and sharing of the data, from industry as well as competent authorities, is important. Methodologies are needed that can facilitate risk assessment.

IFIF responded to the recommendations from the Expert Meeting, and said it is willing to share data and information, as well as continue collaboration with FAO to raise awareness of regulators and industry. It said Codex is the forum with the science expertise to address the regulatory aspects of feed safety at an international level.

The Global Environment Monitoring Systems developed by WHO will be extended to collect and share data on feed. A multi-stakeholder program for capacity development is under development that will adhere to Codex Alimentarius recommendations, implement good animal feeding practices and good manufacturing processes.

The extensive discussion during the July side event highlighted the need to continue information and knowledge sharing among the parties, as well as to make a step forward and discuss a common action plan for feed safety that would give direction and increase the commitment of the “feed community” to work together toward a common goal.

FAO partnership

IFIF and FAO concluded their 14th annual meeting this October and further strengthened their collaboration on issues to ensure safe, nutritious and sustainable feed and food.

Mario Sergio Cutait, IFIF 2014-15 chairman, noted that “the FAO focus on five strategic objectives, emphasis on working in a goal-oriented manner, and the FAO’s strong efforts reaching out to the private sector have made a tangible and positive difference in our already longstanding collaboration.”

“We have to support both sustainable livestock production and intensive farming, innovation and technology and fair trade. Feed is part of the solution,” he said.

The groups are planning the 9th International Feed Regulators Meeting and the 5th Global Feed & Food Congress in April 2016 in Antalya, Turkey. Newman said the events are examples of the FAO-IFIF partnership positively impacting the feed and food chain.

This year’s theme for the Congress is “Equity and Prosperity for All,” and links to the global challenge of providing safe, affordable and sustainable animal protein sources to feed 9 billion people by 2050. More than 1,200 delegates from around the world are expected to attend the event, which is April 18-20. It will cover sustainability, markets and trade, feed and food safety, regulations and standards, animal nutrition, innovation and research and development.

The Congress was launched in 2005 by FAO and IFIF to provide a global platform for industry and government to discuss critical issues in the food and feed industries. The event was last held in Sun City, South Africa in April 2013.

The International Feed Regulators Meeting immediately follows the Congress on April 21 at the same location. It is an opportunity for regulators and feed industry professionals to discuss concrete ideas for providing safe and affordable feed and food. Government feed regulators may attend the event for free.