Feed Safety is Theme at Joint Conference

By David Meeker, PhD, MBA
Senior Vice President, Scientific Services, National Renderers Association

The second annual Feed and Pet Food Joint Conference was held September 14-16, 2011, in Kansas City, MO, by the Pet Food Institute (PFI) and National Grain and Feed Association. The overall theme of the meeting, pre-conference workshop, and hall conversations was the impact of the new Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). Approximately 300 people from the feed and pet food industries attended.

Leading off the conference was “Building the Basics of an Animal Food Safety Plan – an Interactive Workshop,” an opportunity to engage in hands-on case studies in developing a risk-based approach to good manufacturing practices and other predicate animal feed and pet food product safety programs. These prerequisite programs are the necessary building blocks for the hazard analysis and preventive controls that will be required by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) under FSMA.

As part of this workshop, Dave Harlan of Cargill described the development of a document containing food safety prerequisite programs for animal food/feed. The British Standards Institution just released Publically Available Specification (PAS) 222 – Prerequisite programmes for food safety in the manufacture of food and feed for animals, which can be downloaded for free at www.bsigroup.com/en/sectorsandservices/Forms/PAS-2222011-free-download. This document reflects much of what is done in the North American Rendering Industry Code of Practice, the rendering industry’s hazard analysis and critical control point (HACCP) based program that emphasizes prevention in processes and practices. Having rendering’s approach mirrored by an international effort is the first step in wider global recognition of the industry’s program and a better understanding of the safety and value in rendered products.

The workshop covered the basics of preventive controls and HACCP, including monitoring, corrective action, verification of controls, and so on – concepts that are familiar to all renderers that have participated in the rendering code of practice training programs sponsored by the Animal Protein Producers Industry. Practical hazard analysis techniques were described, including a product’s intended use, plant flow diagrams, and possible unknown hazards of biological, chemical, or physical nature. Several speakers warned that in the future, written food/feed safety plans would be required.

Dr. Dan McChesney, director of the FDA Office of Surveillance and Compliance, spoke of the expectations the agency is likely to include in its proposed rules due to be published by November of this year (Congress required rules to be final by July 2012). He emphasized it will be important to identify and evaluate “known or reasonably foreseeable” hazards by conducting formal hazard analysis, and then implementing “risk-based” preventive controls to “significantly minimize or prevent” those identified hazards. McChesney discussed at length the concept of end product testing and acknowledged that after many discussions with industry, current FDA thinking is to allow “non-traditional” approaches to verification steps. He said FDA was in the process of shifting to emphasize process control rather than end product testing, and recognizing that measuring things such as water activity, temperature, and microbiological status of the plant environment could be effective. McChesney also said FDA would expect corrective actions to be taken when the process is found not to be controlling a hazard.

There were talks on some of the challenges of using grain in feed and pet food, such as tracking biotech content, mycotoxins, and short supplies. In addition to the workshop described above, there were additional speakers on preventive controls and HACCP emphasizing the fundamental importance of these concepts to the future under FSMA. Kay Johnson Smith, executive vice president of the Animal Agriculture Alliance in Arlington, VA, spoke of “Animal Welfare Challenges – Recent Developments and An Approach for Moving Forward.” PFI and representatives of seven foreign markets involved in the institute’s market access program made presentations on pet food export opportunities. There was also a tabletop trade show during most of the conference.

Three very interesting talks wrapped up the conference on the last day in a general session. David Hoogmoed, executive vice president of Land O’Lakes, Inc., and chief operating officer, Feed Division, of Land O’Lakes Purina Feed, LLC, spoke about “Animal Feed and Pet Food Industries – Factors Shaping Our Future.” He observed that the global population is growing and that economies around the world are growing in prosperity, which will require doubling the production of meat, milk, and eggs by the year 2050. At the same time, a global population of 9.2 billion people will need 50 percent more grain than today. Hoogmoed predicted that the global pet food market will reach $55 billion in a couple of years, and reported that the U.S. market was at $18.8 billion in 2010. He listed challenges such as increasing regulation (here to stay), animal welfare/animal rights, food versus fuel, and conflicting public policies. Hoogmoed advocated that all of agriculture and the food industries must strive for a more unified voice.

Bill Lapp, president of Advanced Economic Solutions, LLC, in Omaha, NE, spoke on “Availability and Cost of Grains and Other Key Feed Ingredients in 2012.” He showed data on the new higher plateau for commodity prices and gave many reasons why high prices will likely continue. Lapp spoke of biofuel mandates and how adjustments will likely need to be made long term.

Carolyn Wiethoff from the Kelly School of Business at Indiana University spoke on “Recruiting, Retaining, and Motivating the Millennial Generation in Your Workplace.” She described in interesting detail the differences among traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Generation X, and the “Millennials” now entering the workforce.

October 2011 RENDER | back