Animal feed is a part of the food chain and has an impact on both the health and welfare of animals as well as the safety of human food. This article lists possible suggestions to prevent the spread of viruses by feed.
Many hazards may contribute to contaminated feed. Hazards are categorised as biological, chemical or physical. Bacteria, moulds, viruses, prions and parasites are examples of biological hazards. In fact, feed could be a possible source of this type of hazard and special attention has been paid to pathogenic bacteria. Many articles have been published and manufacturing procedures developed related to the control of salmonella as a zoonosis bacterium in feed which is responsible for causing feed/foodborne illness of animals and humans. Bacteria as live organisms can also replicate in feed.
Viruses can potentially exist in feed but they cannot reproduce by themselves. They can only multiply in a suitable host and not in the feed, thus for many years, viral contamination of feed has not been given a lot of attention in feed quality and safety management systems. However, feed is a potential vector to spread viruses to animals and humans. Global feed production is more than 1.1 billion tons annually and many consignments of feeds are transferred from one continent to another by trans-oceanic shipping.
In recent years, many viral diseases outbreaks have infected livestock and other animals. Foot and mouth disease (FMD), Newcastle disease, Avian influenza, Porcine epidemic diarrhoea (PED) and African swine fever (ASF) are recent instances of viral diseases in livestock. Many of the viral diseases do not infect humans but will affect the health of livestock, food supply chain and international trade.
One of the main potential routes of spreading viral diseases in animals within the borders of countries is the transit of live animals. When there is a viral disease outbreak, severe quarantine tasks are implemented preventing the transit of live animals to control animal diseases within the borders. However, these severe controls have not been implemented for feed in the same manner. Many of the viruses responsible for animal diseases are stable in feed and feed ingredients, even during long distance transportation.
Suggestions to prevent the spread of viruses through feed: