11 June 1999
Producers should check feed for dioxins

By FWi staff

LIVESTOCK producers are being urged to seek reassurance from suppliers about the origin of feed ingredients following the Belgian dioxin scare.

Feed imports from Belgium are limited with only 5172t of Belgian compound feed imported last year, according to the Ministry of Agriculture (MAFF).

MAFF officials say is none of the imported feed was contaminated by the cancer-causing chemical dioxin because it was high quality piglet creep feed.

But they are advising farmers that feed produced at a number of mills should not be fed to poultry or livestock.

Feed should not be used from De Brabander, Huys, Rendac, Debrabandere, Voeders Algoet, Willaert, Versele-Alimex Sarl, Hendrix Voeders, Callewaert, and Derco International.

The Feed Fat Association (FFA) says that Verkest, the Belgian feed-fat company thought to have caused the dioxin scare, is not on its approved list of suppliers.

None of its members have reported importing any Verkest fats into the UK, said FFA spokesman Bill Harris.

All FFA members, covering most UK fat suppliers, test regularly for the presence of mineral oils as do feed compounders Dalgety and BOCM Pauls.

Pamela Kirby Johnson, director general of the Grain and Feed Trade Association (GAFTA), producers could be sure feed is safe.

There are many schemes, checks and tests in place, she said.

When an incident occurs, GAFTA advises members on where it occurred and the location of contaminated material.

European law contains a safeguard clause stating that member countries must trace contaminated material, remove it from the market and destroy it.

Feed compounder BOCM Pauls is also aware of the possible risks from contamination.

We test for pesticides and dioxins in feed ingredients on a regular basis, said Bruce Woodacre, Paulsnational ruminant adviser.

Although UK legislation is more comprehensive and applied more rigorously than anywhere else in the world, we cant rely on legislation alone, he added.

The company carries out tests and audits suppliers, only buying from those with documented systems.

Buying locally and uncomplicated rations is the key to feed safety, said Graham Loveday of smaller compounder, W&H Marriage, Chelmsford, Essex.

We buy as much as possible locally; mainly cereals, he said.

Auditing of ports, warehouses and merchants premises is also carried out regularly.

Independent consultant Lesley Stubbings agrees.

The first thing producers should do is find out what ingredients are in the feed, she said.

It is now a legal requirement to put these on feed bags.

But feed ingredients do change.

It is worth asking feed companies what their policy is in terms of percentage change of raw ingredients and whether and when they will notify you of changes.