Canadian beef and dairy feed standards up for review

By Aerin Einstein-Curtis

- Last updated on GMT

© iStock/maerzkind
© iStock/maerzkind

Related tags Cattle

Proposed feed standards for beef and dairy cows seek to improve regulatory responsiveness, while maintaining nutritional and environmental safety, says CFIA.   

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is accepting comments through August 18 on a draft policy​ regarding maximum nutrient values in beef and dairy cattle feeds. Previously, the agency put forward comment periods on revisions​ for swine feed and poultry feeds.

Once the comment period closes, a summary of the information gathered is published through the CFIA website said Lisa Murphy, a CFIA spokesperson.

“Feedback received from our consultations is compiled and summarized in a report that includes responses by the CFIA to the feedback received,” ​she told FeedNavigator. “The reports are distributed [and] posted for the information of stakeholders and other interested parties.”

“The proposed regulatory requirements may be revised as a result of the consultations but will again be consulted on as part of a comprehensive, formal proposal to be published by the CFIA in the Canada Gazette Part 1,” ​she added.

The current set of proposals for discussion cover nutritional values for beef and dairy cattle from birth through adulthood, the CFIA said.

Cattle feed standards

The current standards included the use of a set of nutritional guidelines that established a minimum and maximum for nutrient ranges, the CFIA said. This includes Table 4 – if feeds fell within its criteria they did not need registration, while those outside needed to be assessed and registered prior to manufacture and sale.

The established guidelines for dairy and beef cattle feeds were for the grain portion of a complete feed, the agency said. As the nutritional value of forages is not included, there is the potential for over supplementation for some nutrients.

Another criticism of the standards is that they are seen as a barrier to innovation, said the agency.

The proposed changes to the standards seek to remove some of the barriers to new product use, said Murphy.

The use of the enzyme phytase in feed offers one example of the problem as, when added to feed, it means lower levels of inorganic phosphates need to be used, she said. “Residual phosphates in livestock manure are of environmental concern, so being able to reduce mineral phosphate additions to feeds while maintaining adequate nutritional levels is a desirable objective,” s​he added.

“Under the current Table 4 regime, however, many feeds containing added phytase result in feeds having levels of phosphorus below the minimum Table 4 requirement and this triggers feed registration,” ​she said. “The removal of Table 4 as a regulatory mechanism would eliminate the need to register such feeds and provide opportunities to accommodate other new technologies and feed products in the future.”

The updated version of the standards removes Table 4 from the regulations so that it no longer is used as a basis to register feeds, the agency said.

“Many of the current levels in the table date back to the 1990’s, but feeds, feed technology, animal genetics, and nutrition and husbandry practices have evolved since then,”​ said Murphy. “By removing minimum levels and setting maximum levels as safety-focused standards (rather than triggers for registration), the feed industry would have more flexibility and reduced regulatory burden to formulate feeds with variable levels of nutrition to achieve current livestock production needs.”

However, maximum nutrient levels would be set and cover total daily diets rather than complete feeds only, the agency said. And those levels would be incorporated into Feeds Regulations to make updating easier.     

Setting a maximum level for nutrients like vitamins A, D and E aims to prevent the overuse of some ingredients like vitamins or minerals that could have a negative effect on livestock health or become overly concentrated in tissues used for human consumption, said the agency. Additionally, overuse in diets of minerals like copper, phosphorus and zinc can present risks for the environments and humans.

“Toxicity consequences for animal health, human health, and the environment are key elements considered when setting maximums,”​ added Murphy.

The proposed requirements would not set minimum levels for nutrients, but feeds will still have to meet an animal’s nutritional requirements, she said. “The regulations would still require that feeds be safe and effective for their intended purpose so that the CFIA can respond if a feed might not supply sufficient nutrition to support adequate animal health, such as defined by specific nutrient deficiencies,” ​she added.

Larger project

The review of the feed nutrient values is part of a larger, multi-year regulatory modernization progress, the CFIA said.

“The CFIA has done a considerable amount of consultation on the major aspects of the regulations (e.g. ingredient assessment and approval, hazard identification and preventive controls, product and facility licensing/registration, labelling, standards, etc.) that will be completed in the next few months,”​ said Murphy.

Throughout the modernization process, the agency is set to review feed standards, controls, labelling and related regulatory requirements the agency said.  

The larger project is part of an effort to establish a modernized regulatory framework focused on risks and outcomes, the agency said. It seeks to safeguard feeds and food production while reducing regulatory burden and offering a balance between “fair and competitive trade.”

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