The threat of African swine fever (ASF) reaching the U.S. swine herd through contaminated feed ingredients continues to be top of mind for pork producers and the feed ingredient industry. U.S. pork producers feed imported swine feed ingredients, including vitamins and soybean products, from China where the ASF pandemic continues to grow.
The Swine Health Information Center (SHIC) responded to the potential threat posed by imported feed ingredients by bringing together vitamin manufacturers and the soybean industry for workshops in April and July at the University of Minnesota in collaboration with the American Feed Industry Association and the University of Minnesota. The goal of these workshops was to discuss and better understand how imported vitamin and soybean products relate to disease transmission.
“The initiation of the projects that SHIC funded to demonstrate the potential risk of importing viruses through feed or feed ingredients, combined with these workshops, helping us clarify the roles that different feed components may or may not have in importation,” says Paul Sundberg, executive director of SHIC. “Just because we’ve identified the ability of ASF and other viruses to survive under conditions of transport, doesn’t mean they are an actual risk.”
Workshop participants discussed ASF mitigation strengths and weaknesses in manufacturing as well as transportation of feed ingredients. Representatives from the vitamin supply chain noted there is little risk from reputable companies who are able to discuss and answer the Questions to Ask Your Feed Supplier.
The vitamin supply chain report includes a detailed listing of vitamin manufacturers in China and their websites as well details on biosecurity procedures and third-party audits of many of these facilities, a SHIC release said. Stakeholders also discussed soybean meal mitigation processes (both extracting and expelling) to inactivate the virus and the evaluation of efficacy of all mitigants and related processes required.
“What we are doing through these workshops and other research is to clarify the amount of that risk and potential ways to mitigate that risk if it’s there,” Sundberg says. “Without these workshops we are acting and reacting in a vacuum of information. That is something no one wants.”
Shared concerns and goals
Undoubtedly, attendees shared concern about the grave consequences of ASF and other FADs being discovered in the U.S., though both groups agreed the risk cannot yet be quantified. Participants want to see the development of diagnostic testing capability for feed and feed ingredients as well as a response plan to support monitoring of these products.
They agree that more information is needed on the amount of feed ingredients being imported from each country as well as their FAD status. The logistics of soy imports and exports needs review as well, as well as contamination during transportation.
During the soybean workshop, attendees learned about Canada’s approach to ASF control in the feed ingredient supply chain. The Canadian government has developed and implemented a program with importation requirements as a result of their assessment of the risk of ASF virus transmission in grains, oil seeds, and associated meals.
Some of the potential risk factors in the U.S. soy supply chain are soybean hulls and transportation cross-contamination. Participants said a better understanding for soy product logistics is needed. Importers of specialty soy products like organic soybean meal also need to be better informed about the risk of ASF risk and should take appropriate actions to prevent disease transmission from biosecurity to pre-screening protocols for importers.
“No major surprises, but what we were able to do in both workshops was to better understand what those supply chains are and to identify places where we need to follow up and work more to understand the amount of risk,” Sundberg says. “Both of the groups gave good information about the supply chain and potential soft spots in supply chain. Those soft spots are the ones I’m most interested on behalf of pork producers as those soft spots remain questions marks about the potential for the introduction of ASF and other viruses into the U.S.”