FDA guidance on animal feed safety

The Food & Drug Administration’s Center for Veterinary Medicine has released “Guidance for Industry No. 203 Ensuring Safety of Animal Feed Maintained & Fed On-Farm,” which is available at www.fda.gov/downloads/AnimalVeterinary/GuidanceComplianceEnforcement/GuidanceforIndustry/UCM438641.pdf.

animal.feed.safetyThe guidance is intended to help animal producers develop procedures and practices to ensure the use of safe feed in animal production, FDA said. It applies to all feed offered to farm animals (including all food-producing animals and horses), whether the feed is obtained from commercial suppliers or produced on the farm. It also applies to products consumed by animals during pasture grazing, pre- or post-harvest grazing, free-range feeding and forage crop feeding.

In general, FDA’s guidance documents do not establish legally enforceable responsibilities but, instead, describe the agency’s current thinking on a topic and should be viewed only as recommendations, unless specific regulatory or statutory requirements are cited.

I volunteer: Study on THC in animal products

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) was asked to deliver a scientific opinion on the risks for human health related to the presence of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in milk and other food of animal origin.

thcTHC, more precisely delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC) is derived from the hemp plant Cannabis sativa. In fresh plant material, up to 90 % of total Δ9-THC is present as the non-psychoactive precursor Δ9-THC acid. Since few data on Δ9-THC levels in foods of animal origin were available, the Panel on Contaminants in the Food Chain (CONTAM Panel) estimated acute human dietary exposure to Δ9-THC combining different scenarios for the presence of Δ9-THC in hemp seed-derived feed materials.

Acute exposure to Δ9-THC from the consumption of milk and dairy products ranged between 0.001 and 0.03 µg/kg body weight (b.w.) per day in adults, and 0.006 and 0.13 µg/kg b.w. per day in toddlers. From human data, the CONTAM Panel concluded that 2.5 mg Δ9-THC/day, corresponding to 0.036 mg Δ9-THC/kg b.w. per day, represents the lowest observed adverse effect level. By applying an overall uncertainty factor of 30, an acute reference dose (ARfD) of 1 μg Δ9-THC/kg b.w. was derived. The exposure estimates are at most 3 % and 13 % the ARfD, in adults and toddlers, respectively.

The CONTAM Panel concluded that exposure to Δ9-THC via consumption of milk and dairy products, resulting from the use of hemp seed-derived feed materials at the reported concentrations, is unlikely to pose a health concern.

A risk assessment resulting from the use of whole hemp plant-derived feed materials is currently not feasible due to a lack of occurrence data. The CONTAM Panel could also not conclude on the possible risks to public health from exposure to Δ9-THC via consumption of animal tissues and eggs, due to a lack of data on the potential transfer and fate of Δ9-THC.

 Scientific Opinion on the risks for human health related to the presence of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in milk and other food of animal origin

EFSA Journal 2015;13(6):4141[125 pp.]



Investigation of Listeria, Salmonella, and toxigenic E. coli in various pet foods

The Veterinary Laboratory Investigation and Response Network (Vet-LIRN), in collaboration with the Food Emergency Response Network (FERN) and its Microbiology Cooperative Agreement Program (MCAP) laboratories, conducted a study to evaluate the prevalence of selected microbial organisms in various types of pet foods.

sadie.car.10The goal of this blinded study was to help the Center for Veterinary Medicine prioritize potential future pet food–testing efforts. The study also increased the FERN laboratories’ screening capabilities for foodborne pathogens in animal feed matrices, since such pathogens may also be a significant health risk to consumers who come into contact with pet foods. Six U.S. Food and Drug Administration FERN MCAP laboratories analyzed approximately 1056 samples over 2 years.

Laboratories tested for Salmonella, Listeria, Escherichia coli O157:H7 enterohemorrhagic E. coli, and Shiga toxin–producing strains of E. coli (STEC). Dry and semimoist dog and cat foods purchased from local stores were tested during Phase 1. Raw dog and cat foods, exotic animal feed, and jerky-type treats purchased through the Internet were tested in Phase 2. Of the 480 dry and semimoist samples, only 2 tested positive: 1 for Salmonella and 1 for Listeria greyii. However, of the 576 samples analyzed during Phase 2, 66 samples were positive for Listeria (32 of those were Listeria monocytogenes) and 15 samples positive for Salmonella. These pathogens were isolated from raw foods and jerky-type treats, not the exotic animal dry feeds. This study showed that raw pet foods may harbor food safety pathogens, such as Listeria monocytogenes and Salmonella. Consumers should handle these products carefully, being mindful of the potential risks to human and animal health.

Foodborne Pathogens and Disease. Volume: 11 Issue 9: September 4, 2014

Sarah M. Nemser, Tara Doran, Michael Grabenstein, Terri McConnell, Timothy McGrath, Ruiqing Pamboukian, Angele C. Smith, Maya Achen, Gregory Danzeisen, Sun Kim, Yong Liu, Sharon Robeson, Grisel Rosario, Karen McWilliams Wilson, and Renate Reimschuessel


Afternoon with Bert

It was an all-Ontario gabfest yesterday as Chapman and I and our kids had the pleasure of lunching with Dr. Bert Mitchell (Ontario Veterinary College, ’64), and then visiting with his wife Linda at their home in Sarasota, Florida, yesterday.

Among other achievements, Bert was Director of the Bureau of Veterinary Drugs at Health Canada from 1982-1988, and an associate director at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Veterinary Medicine from 1988-2001.

We shared stories, spoiled the kids, and deeply enjoyed the company. You’ll notice from the pic that Bert is the fittest of us three.

Lowering loads: Salmonella in animal feed increases risk throughout food system

Food safety friend Lynn McMullen, a professor of microbiology at the University of Alberta, told CBC News she was the victim of severe salmonella poisoning.

“I came home from California on a Sunday, and by about 7 o’clock Sunday night, my body was aching. By midnight I couldn’t decide which end of my body should be over a toilet,” she recalled.

McMullen said her doctor initially would not requisition a test for food poisoning, insisting that the problem would take care of itself.

McMullen pushed for the test, which came back positive for salmonella.

Because she was likely exposed while travelling, McMullen was not able to find out how she was infected.

McMullen said salmonella poisoning was one of the worst things she has ever gone through.

“I would never wish this on my worst enemy…I actually was at the point where I was ready to die, it was so bad,” she said.

I have no idea why this anecdote is buried in a story from CBC about Salmonella in animal feed, other than to illustrate Salmonella is prevalent.

Canadian food inspectors find salmonella in more than 10 per cent of commercial animal feed they test despite a zero tolerance stance.

Food safety friend Rick Holley at the University of Manitoba told CBC, “We’ve got to do something about the presence of salmonella in the animal feed. It’s just insane to think we are going to be able to prevent [outbreaks] from happening unless we do something about it.”

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) told CBC News it does not accept any amount of salmonella in animal feed, and takes any detection seriously.

However, the agency has confirmed that it finds salmonella in 13 per cent of the feed it routinely tests.

“Reducing the potential for animals to be infected with salmonella reduces the potential that those animals will shed the organism and, as a result, contaminate animal-derived foods,” said Paul Mayers, the CFIA’s vice-president of policy and programs.

However, Mayers also said the CFIA takes a “risk-based” approach after it detects salmonella.

One Manitoba feed producer says the CFIA is only concerned with six of the more than 2,500 strains of salmonella, and it lets the feed enter the market normally if it doesn’t detect one of those six strains.

As late as in 2010, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, like the CFIA, enforced a zero-tolerance policy for salmonella in animal feed.

This led to an import alert against four Canadian canola processors in 2009 and 2010, after several shipments of canola meal — a byproduct of the canola oil industry and a popular ingredient in animal feed — tested positive for salmonella.

For more than a year, the FDA effectively shut the U.S.-Canadian border to canola meal from Bunge, Viterra, ADM and Cargill plants in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario.

Hundreds of shipments were stopped during this period.

But in late 2010 and early 2011, the import alert was lifted after stakeholders petitioned the FDA to relax the way the regulator deals with salmonella in feed.

Some European countries take the threat of salmonella in the food chain much more seriously than Canada does.

Ola Magnus Loemo, a spokesperson for Norway’s Ministry of Agriculture and Food, says Scandinavian countries “established strong national [salmonella] surveillance-regimes” in the mid-1990s and fought to implement tight controls on salmonella while negotiating European Union treaties.

Loemo said as a result, salmonella outbreaks are very rare in Norway, and “the majority of those cases [almost all] could be traced to contamination abroad.”

Holley said he would like to see Canada take similar steps, and he sees cleaning up our act when it comes to feed as being part of that.

“We can’t possibly hope to reduce the frequency to which these animals that we use as food shed salmonella with the hope that [our food] will not be contaminated unless we stop feeding [salmonella] to our animals,” he said.