ARLINGTON, Va. — A new research project seeks to analyze whether animal feed contains any of the serotypes from the bacteria salmonella that could pose a health threat to livestock.
The research project is being conducted by the Institute for Feed Education & Research (IFEEDER), along with several partners — including the American Feed Industry Association, National Pork Board, National Renderers Association, Poultry Protein and Fat Council, U.S. Poultry and Egg Association and U.S. Soybean Board — along with the University of Arkansas.
The yearlong project is aimed at helping the animal feed industry better understand if the bacteria is prevalent at their manufacturing facilities so that it can make more informed decisions on what additional safety measures, if any, should be taken to promote feed safety and protect animal health.
"As an industry, we have long-believed that salmonella is not a threat in food for animals as it is for people due to the types of grains and ingredients used and the stringent regulatory procedures and processes in place to avoid contamination," said Dr. Preston Buff, AFIA's director of regulatory affairs. "This research will test that hypothesis so that we have the data and scientific analysis we need to continue making safe animal feed for America's 9.6 billion food-producing animals a year."
There are more than 2,500 strains, or serotypes, of naturally occurring salmonellae present in the environment and in animals. Although humans who consume contaminated food or practice poor food handling can sometimes contract salmonellosis — a foodborne illness that is estimated to cost more than $2.3 billion annually in medical care expenses and productivity losses — it is rare for animals to elicit the same response. The biology of many animals typically shields them from most strains of the bacteria; however, the Food and Drug Administration considers eight specific salmonellae serotypes to be "hazardous" to five animal species — poultry, swine, sheep, horses, and dairy and beef cattle.
To prevent these serotypes of salmonella from posing a risk to these animals, AFIA and its partners formed a Salmonella in Feed Coalition, providing a $50,000 grant to the University of Arkansas to conduct a thorough research analysis. The project will invite 250 U.S. animal food mills that produce livestock feed to voluntarily send samples of their commercial feed to the university for analysis.
Kansas State University, another partner in the project, is developing guidance materials for the volunteers to explain how to collect the samples and will be providing sampling kits. The facilities will take the samples in the fall of 2017 and spring of 2018 from their bulk feed shipments. In all, 500 samples will be collected and analyzed.
Once the samples are received, Dr. Steven Ricke, University of Arkansas' principal investigator for the project, will test to see if salmonellae are present. If the sample contains the bacteria, it will be further analyzed to determine the specific salmonella serotype. The university will provide a full report to the coalition at the end of the project, which it anticipates to be end of summer 2018.
Animal feed mills that are interested in providing samples for the research project should contact AFIA's Preston Buff at email@example.com.