This meeting was best described as my “getting my bearings” meeting.
There were 250+ representatives present from every state Department of Agriculture, the US federal government (FDA), the Canadian federal government (their FDA), and a whole lot of pet food industry representatives – oh, and a few consumers (one that I know of). Two hours of discussion in the Feed and Feed Ingredient committee dealt with the new FSMA (Food Safety Modernization Act) – essentially that states and companies needed to comply and it was a lot of work for them to get it done.
The published goal of the Feed and Feed Ingredient group is: minimize the presence of chemical, microbiological and physical hazards in animal feeds to the levels necessary to protect human and animal health. It’s a noble goal.
Keyword: minimize. Not prevent.
For compete safety, there should be zero tolerance for these contaminants. Instead, up to 10 ppm (parts per million) lead is permissible in livestock feed. 10 ppm lead in a human baby’s blood is considered a health hazard. Lead does not go away with time – it builds up. So when humans eat the meat, it may have higher levels of lead in it. Prevent is a much better word – prevent the presence of hazards in animal feed. That’s why I’m here – see if it helps.
Most interesting was almost an aside, an accidental discussion. The chair of the committee, a representative from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, and a large pet food company representative, regarding participation in European food safety talks. The Canadian view was discussion is good and protecting animals a goal; the pet food company representative’s view was more, stricter legislation was not going to make his company money. I’d call that diametrically opposed views. The conversation was heated and disrespectful, at least on the part of the pet food representative.
Otherwise, we heard a run down of a few governmental organizations functions. Another funny – while US manufacturers will go to China to buy inferior quality, inexpensive ingredients, the Chinese don’t want any of that from us. Decree 118 discusses safety in animal feed exported to China. It’s just ironic that their standard are higher than ours – perhaps the melamine issues would never have happened if the US had the same legislation as Chinese! It really shows we should point the finger to ourselves!
Stay tuned for day 2.