EFSA initiates re-evaluation of feed additives

The European Food Safety Authority’s FEEDAP Panel has recently published one of its first opinions on the safety and efficacy of feed additives submitted by manufacturers for re-evaluation. The Panel is re-evaluating all feed additives currently on the market, authorised under the previous regulatory framework[1], and in line with current EU legislation on feed additives[2] for use in animal nutrition. The aim of the work is to ensure that all feed additives in Europe are re-assessed following the same, up-to-date guidelines[3] taking into account the newest scientific developments.

EFSA has already received more than 30 feed additive applications for re-evaluation. In addition, the FEEDAP Panel is continuing to assess new additives submitted for authorisation in the EU, or new uses for additives already authorised. To date EFSA has evaluated more than 200 feed additive applications.

Feed additives are products used to improve animal feed, for example, to enhance flavour, or to make feed more digestible. They include, for instance, preservatives, antioxidants, flavourings and vitamins. There are currently about 2,800 feed additives on the EU market. To maintain these products on the market, the feed industry has to submit applications to the European Commission and EFSA containing the scientific data needed to underpin the re-evaluation of their products. EFSA has also prepared a series of technical guidance documents, following public consultations, to help applicants to prepare the applications.

EFSA’s FEEDAP Panel evaluates the potential impact of feed additives on animal and human health and on the environment. All feed additives containing micro-organisms are also tested for their possible resistance to antibiotics used in human and veterinary medicine.

There are two types of known antimicrobial resistance in micro-organisms; intrinsic and acquired. Intrinsic resistance means that resistance to an antimicrobial forms part of the micro-organism’s own genetic make-up. Whilst this trait can be then passed on to the next generation, the risk of transfer to another micro-organism, plant or animal cell is considered to be negligible. Acquired resistance means that, a micro-organism has, by acquiring external genetic material, become resistant to a certain antimicrobial[4]. Micro-organisms with acquired antimicrobial resistance can potentially spread that resistance to other organisms. If this is the case EFSA would consider this as a potential cause for concern.

The FEEDAP Panel has completed a re-evaluation of the safety and efficacy of Cylactin, a feed additive used in diets for chickens for fattening. Cylactin is a microbial feed additive based on a strain of lactic acid bacteria (Enterococcus faecium), which has had a history of use with both animals and humans. The initial assessment showed that the strain of lactic acid bacteria used in this product is more resistant to kanamycin than most other strains of Enterococcus faecium. Following a thorough review of the data, including the full genome sequence the Panel concluded that the antimicrobial resistance was not acquired; therefore, the risk that the bacteria might transfer kanamycin resistance to other organisms is not a cause for concern.

The Panel concluded that Cylactin is effective as a feed additive used for chickens for fattening and that there is no evidence that its use results in adverse effects for the target animals, human health or the environment.

[1] Directive 70/524/EEC concerning additives in feedingstuff.
[2] Regulation (EC) N0 1831/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the preparation and the presentation of applications and the assessment and the authorisation of feed additives.
[3] Commission Regulation (EC) No 429/2008 on detailed rules for the implementation of Regulation (EC) No 1831/2003 and EFSA technical guidance documents .
[4] This can happen in the animal or human gut which is densely populated with bacteria. Acquired antimicrobial resistance genes can be transmitted between different species of micro-organisms.

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