Dave Cook, R & D director, Cargill Animal Nutrition, told FeedNavigator.com that the division has been trying to understand exactly how antibiotics function in livestock in order to develop substitutes that deliver on growth and better feed conversion.
He said that while there is an ongoing industry shift away from using non-therapeutic antibiotics in feed there is also a certain amount of industry skepticism about some of the alternatives.
Cargill, he said, is trying to counter that distrust through comprehensive research leading to novel and effective compounds for improved animal health and nutrition.
“We want to know that these additives really work. We have been actively involved in research around gut health, exploring how the full gamut of additives from essential oils, to pre and probiotics to plant extracts address the microbial population in the animal's gut.”
He said that Cargill has also been looking at how intestinal tissue in animals is impaired and what technology could help to repair that damage.
Additionally, the research is focused on boosting feed efficiency through improving digestibility of fiber or looking at how to enhance intestinally delivered supplies of protein from dietary feed sources, said Cook.
Using a biological modelling approach, Cargill researchers have now mapped the gastrointestinal track to evaluate how certain compounds could assist in the management of the microbial population in the animal's gut, said the R & D Director.
Those compounds will be launched as commercial products in the next 6 to 12 months pending final testing and negotiations with partners in Europe and the US, said Cook.
Last June saw Cargill Animal Nutrition team up with European lactic acid supplier, Corbion Purac, on a lactylates based-product for poultry feed – Aloapur – which is aimed at significantly reducing the usage of antibiotics in broiler and turkey feed, while boosting growth and health.
Production has been underway since July 2013 in a newly built production facility at the Corbion Purac site in Gorinchem, the Netherlands.
Reacting to regulatory changes
Cargill Animal Nutrition, as a global player, has to have research programs in place that can respond to regulatory changes in whichever market they occur, said Cook.
“We are prepared in terms of the new US rules on antibiotic phase out, given that we already had to react to the decision by EU regulators to ban antibiotics as growth promoters in feed in 2006, and the similar restrictions brought in by the authorities in South Korea in 2011,” said the R & D director.
The US’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is trying to phase out non-therapeutic uses of antibiotics in animals amid increasing concern that their widespread use is helping to create superbugs - bacteria that are resistant to drugs that treat infections in humans.
December 2013 saw the agency issue a final guidance document that explains how animal pharmaceutical companies can work with the FDA to voluntarily remove growth enhancement and feed efficiency antibiotics from their portfolio.
Once manufacturers voluntarily make these changes, the affected products can then only be used in food-producing animals to treat, prevent or control disease under the order of or by prescription from a licensed veterinarian.