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Safety, regulations top concerns in EU specialty ingredient industry

Imagine the difficulties of navigating the ins and outs of new regulations across 28 countries and 28 different governments – not to mention the requirements of the global feed industry – without the help of a leadership organization. Luckily, European additive suppliers have a well-connected and well-respected industry advocate, the EU Association of Specialty Feed Ingredients and their Mixtures (FEFANA), acting as a liaison between its membership and regulatory bodies.

Marco-Bruni-FEFANA-1311FITrends

Imagine the difficulties of navigating the ins and outs of new regulations across 28 countries and 28 different governments – not to mention the requirements of the global feed industry – without the help of a leadership organization. Luckily, European additive suppliers have a well-connected and well-respected industry advocate, the EU Association of Specialty Feed Ingredients and their Mixtures (FEFANA), acting as a liaison between its membership and regulatory bodies.

FEFANA, which recently celebrated its 50th anniversary, represents 107 European member companies ranging in size from large, multinational corporations to small businesses. While issues vary from country to country, FEFANA’s president, Marco Bruni, and secretary general, Dr. Didier Jans, identified a number of overarching trends impacting its membership as well as the compound feed manufacturing industry.

On-going issues command attention

Feed ingredient re-authorization has been a hot topic for some time, but it remains a top concern for FEFANA. In a bid to secure product safety, supplier companies are required to submit an application to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) for new products as well as re-authorization of existing products on the market. EFSA evaluates each dossier and then submits an opinion to the Standing Committee for Animal Nutrition, who then provides the final authorization. The products are either rejected or approved by the European Commission and published in the regulation (see sidebar).

The registration process takes at least a year and a half, or longer, and authorization is directed by Regulation 1831/2003, other EU regulations and the guidance established by EFSA. Authorized products are placed on the Community Register of feed additives, which provides an additive’s current status.

“We have been very busy with re-authorization for four years,” Bruni explains. “In 2010, we had to table the applications. Now we are busy with the discussion and the assessment process.”

In addition to re-authorization, the Feed Hygiene Regulation (183/2005/EC), a system of licensing companies, has posed its own challenges. To meet these needs, the organization was instrumental in developing the FAMI-QS Certification System for specialty feed ingredients.

The FAMI-QS Code addresses safety, quality and regulatory compliance by minimizing the risk of allowing unsafe products enter the feed and food chain. It also helps operators implement the objectives of the hygiene regulation and provides measures to ensure all feed safety regulatory requirements are met.

“FAMI-QS supports actual implementation of this legislation on a global level,” Jans explains. “What we’ve helped the industry develop is for the open market to gain value in all economies.”

Acting on a global stage

Mature markets must prepare for the changes globalization will bring and adapt to a “think global, act local” mentality. The feed and ingredient industries can find opportunities in niche markets as the global industry adapts to a diversification of ingredients. For example, developing markets focus more heavily on productivity, thereby raising the demand for growth promoters; while mature, stable markets are likely to place a higher priority on sustainability, animal welfare, the quality of the animal product, etc.

“We need to adapt to the demand,” Bruni says. “If you speak about Africa, for instance, the type of specialty ingredient that they need today is probably completely different from the ingredients needed in Asia or Latin America. I think our industry is realizing this and adapting to serve this demand accordingly by adapting the supply and the way additives are delivered.”

Jans adds: “The scarcity of raw materials, the difficulty of access, competition between the different uses of the raw materials, the need for alternative sources – in most of the cases these issues cannot be overcome without using specialty ingredients to balance and compensate for shortages. However, at the end of the day, it’s the compound feed industry who will be resolving these complications.”

What’s on the horizon for the additive industry?

Specialty additives clearly deliver functionality, but how companies bring them to market – what claims they make – is very touchy from a legislative standpoint. FEFANA identifies product claims as becoming a central issue in the years to come.

“Of course, companies are selling functionalities, but the delivery of these messages needs to be organized,” explains Bruni. “Industry should find a sensible way to manage this before the legislators step in. If not, the effects may be detrimental to the market, to its credibility and to its relationship with the chain. FEFANA would like to avoid this.”

The organization hopes such guidance is organized by the additives industry, not legislators, so the proper framework is established.

From the compound feed manufacturer to the farmers, this discussion involves all stakeholders. Jans says, “It’s everybody’s business. We need to coordinate and move this in this in the right direction.”

Premix labeling is another up-and-coming issue

“Regulators would like companies to list all ingredient information on the same label, which is rather impossible,” Bruni explains. “We have the responsibility to help them distinguish what is essential and what is not essential information.”

He also feels the legislators need to identify which audience – the consumer, the food producer, the farmer – this information should be targeted toward.

Collaboration the key to success

According to Jans, FEFANA is working with groups like the International Feed Industry Federation (IFIF) to understand the needs of the global market. The hope is to one day to identify industry-wide best practices and possibly roll out international guidelines, for e.g. how to table an application that would be usable in different regions.

Jans explains: “We work together to identify best practices and so on. Of course it’s all informal, we’re talking about international dialogue – that’s heavy, that’s difficult – but you begin to see the trend and the practical implication of this dialogue being taken over in some legislation, the thinking of some regulators.”

“It’s really a matter of getting flesh on the bones year after year,” he says, noting that the expectation isn’t necessarily full harmonization, but working toward a point where new restrictions do not require the industry to start from scratch.

Managing the regulatory environment

From a regulatory standpoint, FEFANA’s goal is to carefully follow the trends and prepare for what future legislation will require of the industry.

According to Bruni, the industry is no longer trying to avoid legislation, knowing that “getting involved in the process aids in the production of sensible, predictable legislation.” FEFANA defines success as having the governing bodies consult with stakeholders before making permanent decisions.

“It’s not easy, but they are receptive to concrete proposals – sometimes they take them into consideration, but sometimes they do not,” Jans says. “You may have differing points of view, but it’s not a fight, it’s compromising to find the right balance that makes sense for everybody.”

Bruni concludes: “No company wants to put an unsafe product on the market; however, there is a sensible balance that ensures safety without jeopardizing growth or the ability to serve the feed chain.”

For more information about FEFANA, its members and its work, please visit www.fefana.org.

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