Fur animal feed may spread new animal diseases


<p>Up to half of the total quantity of production animals and the products derived from them are unfit for human consumption. These animal by-products are used in fur animal feed, for example. The Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira has completed a risk profile to determine if animal diseases could enter Finland when by-products are imported into the country.&nbsp;</p>

In 2015, the situation on Finnish production animal farms was good in terms of animal diseases, but African swine fever, among other diseases, poses a serious risk. The situation is continuously changing globally.

Evira’s risk profile examines the health risks to which cattle, pigs, sheep, goats and aquaculture plants are exposed.

“Organic matter made up of by-products, such as slaughter waste, can contain a variety of pathogens. It is possible for an animal disease to be imported in by-products due to human error somewhere in the long processing chain, either abroad or in Finland, or in the case of a breach of regulations,” says Leena Sahlström, Senior Researcher, DVM, PhD of Evira’s Risk Assessment Research Unit.

The consequences and financial implications of pathogens entering the country would depend on the disease in question and the production animals affected. In the worst-case, there could be financial implications for almost the entire animal production sector.

Risks are reduced when the rules are followed

Animal by-products are imported into Finland for the needs of various fields of production. If rules are adhered to, the disease propagation risk is eliminated. By contrast, even a minor processing error can lead to the spread of a disease.

“Pathogens may be spread by rodents, tools used on farms, wind, or slurry or waste water run-off from a neighbouring farm. Short distances between farms and by-product plants can contribute to the spread of pathogens,” says Sahlström.

Pathogens surviving in fur animal manure spread on fields can represent a significant risk to grazing animals on farms with both production and fur animals. Pathogens are most likely to enter Finland in raw materials for fur animal feed in the summer or early autumn, when the need for feed and the related imports of raw materials are at their peak.

Aquaculture plants are also at risk if they are located in an area affected by waste water or slurry run-off from a fur animal farm or by-product plant.

Further research is needed

There is a risk that non-processed by-products will begin to be imported into Finland.

“For this reason, risk assessment and studies of imported by-products must be continued. Further research is also necessary if large quantities of by-products begin to be used in products other than fur animal feed, such as fertilisers. Additionally, it would be beneficial to examine whether by-products pose a risk to poultry,” says Sahlström.

Hazards of importing category 2 animal by-products – a risk profile. Description is in English.

For further information, please contact:

Leena Sahlström, Senior Researcher, DVM, PhD, tel. +358 50 464 8051 



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