Rendering Now a Fixture at Poultry Expo

By Tina Caparella

“Rendered products are safe feed ingredients” was the message given by Dr. David Meeker, senior vice president, Scientific Services, National Renderers Association (NRA), at the first International Rendering Symposium held during the 2012 International Poultry Expo and International Feed Expo in late January in Atlanta, GA. Over 100 participants attended the symposium following the closing of the trade show.

Meeker shared a recent analysis of almost 9,000 samples tested during 2010. Salmonella was positive in 8.3 percent of the samples, not much different than the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) data across all feed ingredients, which has shown a decline over the years. Further serotyping positive samples showed no foodborne Salmonella serotypes such as enteritidis or typhimurium.

However, risk remains for Salmonella and other bacteria in rendering plants so the industry has developed an aggressive quality assurance program that includes a code of practice. More than 100 rendering plants have been certified to date, representing nearly 90 percent of production in the United States and Canada.

“This code goes a long way in demonstrating that plants are safe,” Meeker said, adding that testing of protein meals for bacteria is used to check the system, not every load produced.

Tom Dobbs, Griffin Industries, knows firsthand that renderers face many challenges in meeting the expectations and requirements of customers, regulatory agencies, the general public, and its employees. He remarked that plants must have a lengthy list of plans, policies, and procedures for safety and quality, and that a renderer’s raw material source is the first line of defense.

“The rendering industry is striving all the time to improve its processes,” Dobbs commented. “The bottom line is we all want safety.”

Dr. Frank Jones, emeritus professor, University of Arkansas, and president of Performance Poultry Consulting, discussed controlling Salmonella in feed. According to Jones, Salmonella is highly adaptable to a variety of environmental situations and can survive for a long time. Because of these evolutionary advantages, it’s unlikely that the bacteria will be eradicated from the food chain any time soon, if ever.

“It’s going to be a continuing battle, so we’d better get used to it and go forward,” he warned. Examples Jones gave to help combat the bacteria were preventing cross-contamination, even accidentally, and reducing moisture, which is the single most important factor in prohibiting microbial growth.

Richard Sellers, American Feed Industry Association (AFIA), announced that “the mother of all regulations for our industry” has emerged as the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). It will affect all feed ingredient processors, feed manufacturers, pet food companies, feed and ingredient imports, and the transportation sector. While the rules are still being finalized, all facilities should be following the law even though FDA is not enforcing it. Sellers reported that a stumbling block creating the delay in finalizing the rules is the high $1.2 billion cost of compliance and that once the rules are proposed, AFIA will ask for a one-year implementation period to ensure everyone is properly trained.

“FSMA is a massive undertaking,” he declared. “And FDA knows it can’t do it all.” In that sense, AFIA’s working groups are drafting guidance documents for feed, liquid feed, pet food, vitamin/mineral premixes and micro ingredients, plant protein products, and animal protein products to present to FDA as industry ideals. Agency investigators will eventually use guidance documents to determine compliance.

Research has been an essential investment by the rendering industry, said Dr. Gary Pearl, Griffin Industries and past president of the Fats and Proteins Research Foundation (FPRF), a group founded in 1962 that has completed over 650 studies on rendering processes, products, and end product uses. He noted that the rendering process has been validated via thermal death times for the inactivation of major foodborne bacterial pathogens and numerous viruses, parasites, and protozoa.

Many research projects have focused on the use of animal proteins and fats in animal nutrition. Dr. Jeffre Firman, University of Missouri, educated participants on the value of using rendered fats and protein in poultry diets, from their nutritional components such as phosphorous to the best inclusion rates.

“In the long run, these products will save you money,” Firman commented. “I like to look at the use of several products and not just one.” But he went on to warn that it will cost more for feed no matter the ingredient.

Dr. Albert Tacon, aquaculture feed and nutrition consultant for the NRA, switched the focus to aquaculture, which is the fastest growing food sector over the past 25 years. Commercial aquafeed production was about 35 million metric tons (mmt) in 2010, and that figure is expected to increase to 50 mmt by 2015 and 70 mmt by 2020. While fish meal is a complete feed for many aquaculture species, fish meal production is decreasing every year and prices are escalating at a rapid rate so feed manufacturers in Asia looking for lower cost alternatives are turning to animal proteins. Tacon stated that poultry by-product meal is an excellent feed source for many aquaculture species and easy to formulate in fish feed.

The relevancy of ingredient suppliers is becoming more and more important to pet food companies, according to Jarrod Kersey, The Nutro Company. Ten years ago, consumers simply wanted to know if a pet food was good for their companion animal. Now, they want to know what the ingredients do for their pet and where they came from.

“Today, we’re in a world of transparency for the consumer,” Kersey stated.

Other speakers at the symposium included Kent Swisher, vice president, NRA International Programs, who reviewed domestic and export markets for rendered products, including the ever-growing biofuels industry that is consuming more animal fats and greases each year while feed industry usage declines. NRA President Tom Cook gave a broad overview of the association, the World Renderers Organization, and the rendering industry in general.

“We were pleased with the participants from around the globe in this program and are already looking forward to next year,” remarked Cook. The association was also one of nearly 900 exhibitors at the International Poultry Expo, distributing information about the rendering industry to the 20,000-plus attendees from over 100 different countries. This was the fourth year in which NRA has participated in the trade show.

Other educational programs offered to expo participants included the Pet Food Conference, which covered a variety of topics ranging from regulatory issues to the technical aspects of production, food safety, marketing, and use of ingredients. The session was sponsored by AFIA’s Pet Food Committee and the U.S. Poultry and Egg Association’s Poultry Protein and Fat Council.

Dr. Dan McChesney, FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine, spoke to attendees about FDA’s progress on the FSMA, which charged the agency with improving the safety of food within the United States.

“As the risk goes up, we need to be certain we’re controlling it,” he explained. McChesney advised that anyone with a feed facility must identify what controls are already in place compared to what is being asked by FSMA. Most importantly, the facility is required to reconcile any differences and to document those controls.

“Whatever you have identified as a hazard, you have to have a preventive control to address that hazard,” said McChesney. He mentioned that FDA’s proposed rules for preventive controls are likely to be released in February or March, with the final rule scheduled to be published in the summer of 2012, after public meetings in Washington, DC, Chicago, IL, and Oakland, CA, and a 75-day comment period.

McChesney also addressed the upcoming change to the Association of American Feed Control Officials’ (AAFCOs’) feed ingredient approval process, with the FDA set to step aside from the long-standing process this year.

“The AAFCO process is not going away without anything to replace it,” he stated, adding that FDA was committed to extending the memorandum of understanding concerning the AAFCO approval process while these new processes are defined and put into place.

An ingredient supplier panel discussed various audit and quality programs in place to ensure safe feed ingredients. Charles Starkey, American Proteins, declared that renderers now manufacture “food ingredients” and assured attendees that U.S. rendered products are processed under strict hazard analysis and critical control point programs.

Another educational forum held was the Animal Agriculture Sustainability Summit, where presenters reviewed the challenges and solutions of animal agriculture stewardship and discussed sustainability implications for the poultry industry.

“Sustainability is an important part of the company,” commented Jim Perdue, chairman of Perdue Farms. “It started with the values of my grandfather, who, as he started the company, would cut squares of leather from his worn-out boots to use as door hinges for poultry houses. Today, sustainability expands beyond environmental issues to concerns for Perdue associates, animal care, and the community. In many of our communities, Perdue is the largest employer. Our role far exceeds just providing a job and a paycheck.”

Mike Helgeson, chief executive officer of GNP Company, remarked that consumers want to know where their food comes from, requiring the industry to make continuous improvement a priority. It also expands the need for the poultry industry to evaluate its own operations and look at the sustainability of upstream suppliers, downstream distribution, and customers.

Building a corporate social responsibility program can be challenging for a company, even those with a strong commitment to this goal, so executives at Keystone Foods shared some advice on starting and maintaining a sustainability program.

“One is to build on your successes and strengths,” said Don Adams, vice president of KeySTAR, the company’s sustainability project. He also recommended reaching outside of the organization and talking to other companies who are building programs and are willing to share their experiences.

Next year’s International Poultry Expo/International Feed Expo will be joined by the American Meat Institute, which will co-locate its tradeshow in Atlanta, GA, January 28-31, 2013. The three shows will operate under one umbrella now named the International Production and Processing Expo, or IPPE, creating one of the largest 50 shows in the United States. It is expected that the entire show will include more than 1,000 exhibitors and close to one million square-feet of exhibit space. The meat and poultry exhibits will be combined on one large show floor, and the feed expo will be held in the adjacent hall with one badge allowing all attendees into any exhibit.

April 2012 RENDER | back