Feed adulteration incidents: FDA sets up portal to serve as early warning system

By Jane Byrne contact

- Last updated on GMT

Feed adulteration incidents: FDA sets up portal to serve as early warning system
The FDA expects enhanced reporting of adverse events associated with animal feed on the back of a new information exchange portal for US federal, state and public health agencies.

The government bodies can now leverage a centralized platform, the Animal Feed Network, to record any animal feed-related incidents.

The portal was developed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), working with the Partnership for Food Protection (PFP).

“It is an entirely electronic, internet-based system. Users can enter reports about animal food-related incidents in their jurisdiction and receive reports made by other members,” ​said Catherine McDermott, a spokesperson for the FDA.

The network consists of two reporting hubs: 

PETNet - an already established tracking portal for pet food-related illnesses and product defects.

LivestockNet - for feed-related illnesses and product defects associated with livestock animals, aquaculture species, and horses.

Early warning system

“The information can serve as an early warning system and will allow regulators to determine the best use of investigative and laboratory resources to address pet food or feed adulteration incidents,”​ said the spokesperson.

Participation in the network, added McDermott, does not commit users to take enforcement or regulatory action. “And theuse of the system is entirely voluntary,”​ she said. 

PETNet was originally launched in August 2011 as a response to an outbreak associated with melamine in pet food four years earlier.

A mandate within the FDAA Amendments Act of 2007 called for the establishment of an early alert and surveillance mechanism to identify adulteration of the pet food supply and associated illness. 

“Stakeholders identified a need to improve information sharing between regulatory partners,” ​said McDermott.

And PETNet, she told us, has been successful in establishing an early alert system. “As agencies have become more familiar and comfortable with the system, there have been increased entries. The addition of the livestock portal and improvements in functionality are aimed at improving reporting when incidents occur.”

Melamine scandal

In 2007, the FDA became aware that certain pet foods were sickening and killing cats and dogs. In March that year, it found melamine contaminants in vegetable proteins imported into the US from China and used as ingredients in pet food. 

Some of the tainted pet food was also used to produce feed for livestock and fish. 

In 2008, as a result of a joint investigation by the FDA and the US Department of Agriculture, two Chinese nationals and the businesses they operated, along with US company, ChemNutra, and its top two executives, were indicted by a federal grand jury for their roles in a scheme to import products contaminated with melamine.

Related topics: Regulation, Safety, North America

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