Béatrice Conde-Petit, food safety officer at Bühler, spoke at Swiss Green Economy Symposium 2016.
“The emerging threat of antibiotic resistant bacteria is posing a huge challenge for the industry in terms of food safety,” Conde-Petit said. “Bacteria are changing and acquiring antimicrobial resistance. This is one of the biggest global public health threats.”
According to Bühler, AMR is a consequence of the overuse of antibiotics, mainly in animal food production. Two-thirds of the antibiotics worldwide are used for livestock as growth promotors or to prevent and cure infections. A consequence is the emergence of resistance mechanisms, which threaten the treatment of infectious human diseases. The World Health Organization (WHO) predicts AMR will lead to prolonged illness, disability and death if measures are not taken globally to address the threat.
“AMR is already the cause of 50,000 deaths per year in Europe and the United States,” Conde-Petit said. “If we don’t invest in viable solutions now, more people are likely to be killed by AMR than cancer by 2050.”
Hygiene measures across the production chain are central to addressing the issue, though there is no “magic bullet” panacea, she said. Feed is one of the main paths of harmful bacteria, such as Salmonella, that can infect livestock. Therefore, safe feed is the starting point for reducing antibiotics in animal food production.
“At Bühler we have taken up the food safety challenge and are committed to innovations for safe feed and food processing across the value chain,” Conde-Petit said. “Food safety begins with safeguarding the quality of raw materials with grain drying and cleaning solutions, followed by good hygienic design of plants to control contamination and enable effective cleaning. Lastly, eliminating harmful bacteria are to be eliminated with reliable kill steps in feed processing.”
Innovation is at the core of Bühler’s strategy. Each year, the company invests up to 5% of its turnover in research and development to anticipate trends and challenges, and remain at the forefront of creating sustainable solutions across the value chain. To further promote innovation, Bühler fosters a strong knowledge-exchange culture, and partners, including leading industry players, academia, research institutions, policymakers, and start-ups.
Investing in innovation and R&D is essential for developing solutions for the AMR issue, according to the WHO, which also has called for all countries to develop action plans.
“Switzerland is well positioned thanks to its high standard in feed processing for feed safety,” Conde-Petit said. “It is considered a benchmark for feed producers worldwide. Bühler technology contributes to Switzerland’s standing in the industry. Bühler strives to be a global leader in safe feed technology solutions to address the AMR challenge. We train professionals from the feed manufacturing industry around the globe through our partnership with the Swiss Institute of Feed Technology (SFT) and other customer workshops.”
The Swiss Green Economy Symposium 2016 is intended to bring together thought leaders from politics, business, and society to address the need for sustainability in the economy. The event took place on Nov. 14 in Winterthur, Switzerland. Conde-Petit was a keynote speaker sharing Bühler’s sustainability agenda within the areas of energy, alternative proteins, antibiotic reduction, and feed safety.