American Feed Industry Association Takes Vigilant Biosecurity Stance

( Cassandra Jones, Kansas State University )

With increasing foreign animal disease pressure and recent outbreaks of African swine fever (ASF), the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA) has released an updated version of its biosecurity guidelines

“AFIA’s biosecurity guidelines were originally written to help safeguard manufacturing facilities following 9/11, but were always meant to serve as a ‘living document’ that could be updated based on what we know about new and emerging threats,” says Paul Davis, Ph.D., AFIA’s director of quality, animal food safety and education. “While some threats aren’t at the back door yet, it doesn’t mean we can leave the door unlocked.”

Davis encourages the animal feed industry to be vigilant about continually improving its biosecurity programs for the protection of animal and human health.

“The concept for biosecurity to control the spread of animal diseases is not new,” according to the new guidelines. “However, the societal and financial impact of spreading highly contagious animal diseases has increased due to the intensity and global nature of animal agriculture and transport of pathogens worldwide.”

The purpose of these guidelines is to help feed and ingredient manufacturing facilities develop a biosecurity plan to assist in controlling the spread of animal diseases introduced by foreign sources or within the U.S.
AFIA’s multi-pronged action plan to research science-based solutions for mitigating the risks of virus transmission through feed and communicating any new information and recommendations to the industry and producer groups has been well received by the swine industry.

“AFIA has been a very good partner in this effort,” says Liz Wagstrom, DVM, chief veterinarian for the National Pork Producers Council. “There was a lot of concern when the research first came out that some feed ingredients could support virus survival. AFIA has taken this seriously and looked at their processes and practices to assess risk and look at research to mitigate it.”

AFIA has been coordinating efforts with representatives from the pork industry, government and academia for the past several months to update the biosecurity guidelines based on new information regarding how viruses can potentially spread throughout the feed manufacturing process. 

The updated guidance provides recommendations for how facilities can better set-up an onsite biosecurity program, more thoroughly evaluate and verify their suppliers, work with their shippers, and train on and communicate best practices to all facility personnel and visitors. 

Wagstrom says the guidelines also provide great recommendations for farmers with on-farm feed processing facilities as well as commercial facilities. 

The updated guidance also includes a definition for “biosecure.” There is currently no regulatory definition for this term, yet many segments of the industry have been requesting to only source products from biosecure facilities.

AFIA is also working with its public charity, the Institute for Feed Education and Research, on supporting research in this area. South Dakota State University is leading one of these research projects, co-funded with the Swine Health Information Center, to analyze potential risk mitigation measures and test the effectiveness of proposed holding times for feed specifically in response to the recent ASF outbreaks. 

Wagstrom says she appreciates AFIA’s dedication to co-fund research efforts to help find solutions. “It’s been a great partnership to allow us to continue to grow healthy pigs,” she adds.

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