Trade endorses EU vote on copper use in piglet feed

By Jane Byrne contact

- Last updated on GMT

© istock
© istock
EU feed trade groups, FEFAC and FEFANA, have welcomed the decision of the SCoPAFF to maintain relatively high levels of copper in piglet feed.

The levels of copper, an essential trace element for pigs, in feed for pigs was on the agenda at the Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed (SCoPAFF) meeting on 24-25 April 2018. That committee helps the Commission in its role of implementing EU legislation. Its members are experts nominated by EU member states.

The SCoPAFF members agreed the maximum permitted limits (MPLs) of copper compounds for piglet feed should be 150mg/kg up to 4 weeks after weaning, 100mg/kg to 8 weeks after weaning and then reduced to 25mg/kg.

“They recognized the necessity of these levels to preserve the welfare of pigs at a highly sensitive period of their life,” ​Arnaud Bouxin, deputy secretary general, FEFAC, told us.

The debate, within the SCOPAFF framework, was prompted by an opinion​ ​published by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in July 2016. The EU risk assessor recommended lowering copper (Cu) for piglets, the species with the highest Cu supplementation allowance in the EU, to 25mg/kg of feed, as opposed to the existing MPL of 170 mg/kg of feed, for environmental protection reasons.

Industry had argued, though, that any such dramatic reduction in copper limits, coming at the same time as the industry faces the loss of zinc oxide and pressure to reduce antibiotic use, would make it very difficult to control post-weaning diarrhea in piglets.

Vitamin B2 vote  

A proposed vote at the same SCoPAFF meeting on the denial of authorization of vitamin B2 (Riboflavin 80%) produced by Bacillus subtilis KCCM-10445 was deferred.

The measure to deny EU approval for that vitamin had been proposed following on from the identification​ of residual viable GM cells and genetic material, including AMR genes, within the finished feed additive product. The Committee reportedly acknowledged this denial of this single vitamin B2 product may lead to added market pressures but said feed safety is the priority.

This product is one of three vitamin B2 re-authorizations undergoing re-evaluation with one completed (unpublished) and one near-completion by EFSA.   

VITAC, the consortium that had applied for re-authorization of the product, said it acknowledges the EFSA opinion​ emphasizing the risk for the spread of viable cells and DNA of a genetically modified strain-harboring genes coding for resistance to antimicrobials. It added that it has initiated the necessary steps to mitigate the risk raised by the opinion, and that it accepts the forthcoming denial of the authorization related to the specific manufacturing process of vitamin B2 (80%) as riboflavin produced by Bacillus subtilis KCCM-10445. 

Joerg Seifert, secretary general of the EU Association of Specialty Feed Ingredients and their Mixtures (FEFANA), pointed out that the opinion relates only to the one specific vitamin B2 application submitted by VITAC. 

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