EFSA highlights risk from ergot alkaloids in feed, microbiological hazards in production, and safety of feed detox processes

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/ridvan_celik
© GettyImages/ridvan_celik

Related tags ergot alkaloids pigs Efsa Risk dioxins Salmonella

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) recently published three feed industry related risk assessments.

In January 2024, the Parma, Italy based food and feed safety evaluator assessed the risks to animal health related to the ingestion of ergot alkaloids in feed​.

The experts concluded that there is a health concern for pigs and cattle, while the risk is low for poultry, sheep, and goats.

Ergot is a fungus that grows on cereal grains and grasses. It produces toxic compounds known as ergot alkaloids which can cause, among other effects, severe vasoconstriction of small arteries, effects that are exaggerated during extreme temperatures.

Microbiological hazards

This month also saw EFSA publish a scientific opinion on the persistence of microbiological hazards in food and feed production, and processing environments​.

The Authority’s specialists identified Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella enterica, and Cronobacter sakazakii as the bacteria most associated with persistence. Common risk factors include poor hygienic design of equipment and inadequate cleaning, disinfection, and hygiene practices. EFSA’s experts recommended implementing well-designed sampling and testing programs to identify contamination sources. 

Chemical contaminants

Finally, a new statement​ provides scientific guidance to support the risk assessment of the detoxification processes applied to products intended for animal feed.

Chemical contaminants are substances that are unintentionally present in food or feed as a result of various stages of its production, processing, or transport. They might also result from environmental contamination. Chemical contaminants may be harmful to humans and animals. In this area, EFSA also assessed the safety of feed detoxification processes, which aim to eliminate undesirable substances including dioxins, metals, or mycotoxins from contaminated feed. 

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