Feed additives are products used in animal nutrition to achieve an effect on the feed itself, on the animals, on food products obtained from the animals consuming the feed additive, or on the environment. For instance, feed additives are used to enhance flavour of feed, to meet the need for certain nutrients or to increase the performance of animals in good health.
They are used in feed for food-producing animals and in pet food.
Feed additives include:
- Technological additives – e.g. preservatives, antioxidants, emulsifiers, acidity. regulators, silage additives.
- Sensory additives – e.g. flavours, colourants.
- Nutritional additives – e.g. vitamins, amino acids, trace elements.
- Zootechnical additives – e.g. digestibility enhancers.
- Coccidiostats and histomonostats.
Feed additives may not be put on the market unless they have been authorised following a scientific evaluation carried out by EFSA demonstrating that the additive has no harmful effects on human and animal health and on the environment.
Under EU legislation, feed additives are authorised for 10 years. Subsequently, an application for renewal of the authorisation must be submitted showing that the additive remains safe under the conditions of the authorisation. The first opinions on the renewal of the authorisation of feed additives were published in 2017.
2019 EFSA publishes Guidance on the assessment of the safety of feed additives for the environment. It specifies what kind of information and data applicants need to include in their dossiers to allow EFSA to assess the safety of the feed additive for the environment.
EFSA releases an upgrade of the Feed Additives Consumer Exposure calculator (FACE). This is a user-friendly tool for estimating chronic and acute dietary exposure to residues of feed additives and their metabolites present in food of animal origin.
2018 EFSA releases the Feed Additives maximum safe Concentration in feed for Target Species (FACTS) calculator. This is a tool for estimating the maximum safe concentration of feed additives in feed for the different animal categories and species.
EFSA publishes Guidance on the assessment of the efficacy of feed additives which establishes data requirements and provides information on the design and reporting of studies required the demonstration of efficacy.
EFSA publishes Guidance on the characterisation of microorganisms used as feed additives or as production organisms which sets the data requirements for the identification and characterisation of the microbial feed additives.
2017 EFSA publishes Guidance on the identity, characterisation and conditions of use of feed additives.
EFSA publishes Guidance on the assessment of the safety of feed additives for the consumer, which includes the new consumer exposure model and tool (FACE).
2016 EFSA publishes the Revision of the currently authorised maximum copper content in complete feed. Experts propose a reduction in the maximum copper content in feed for piglets, cattle and dairy cows. The proposed levels would reduce the amount of copper released into the environment, which could potentially play a role in reducing antimicrobial resistance.
2014 EFSA publishes a scientific opinion on the potential reduction of the currently authorised maximum zinc content in complete feed. Experts propose a reduction of the maximum permitted content of zinc in feed for all animal species. They estimate that proposed levels would reduce the amount of zinc in manure released into the environment by about 20%.
EFSA gives scientific advice to support the authorisation process of feed additives. It carries out an evaluation of each new additive submitted for authorisation, of each new use of an authorised feed additive or on the modification or renewal of an authorised additive.
Companies wishing to market an additive in the EU must submit an application and a technical dossier with information on the additive, its conditions of use, control methods and data demonstrating its safety and efficacy.
EFSA’s FEEDAP Panel reviews this information and examines the efficacy and safety of the additive in terms of animal and human health as well as the environment. In parallel, the European Union Reference Laboratory for Feed Additives evaluates the analytical methods used to determine the presence of the additive in feed and its possible residues in food.
If EFSA’s opinion is favourable, the European Commission prepares a draft regulation to authorise the additive. This is then discussed and endorsed by Member States represented in the Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed – Section Animal Nutrition.
EFSA’s activities are not limited to the assessment of feed additives but encompass the collaboration between panels and with other sister agencies. For example, in 2017 EFSA and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) reviewed the measures taken in the EU to reduce antimicrobial use in animals. EFSA experts from different scientific areas – animal feed, animal health and welfare and biological hazards – worked together to produce scientific advice. Another example of collaboration between EFSA panels and units is the ongoing assessment of the maximum levels of cross-contamination for 24 antimicrobial active substances in non-target feed in relation to possible development of antimicrobial resistance and growth promoting effects.
EFSA also provides technical and scientific support to the European Commission on activities at international level, such as the establishment of regulatory and international standards, e.g. CODEX Alimentarius, International Cooperation for Convergence of Technical Requirements for the Assessment of Feed Ingredients (ICCF).
The European legislation on animal feed provides a framework for ensuring that feedstuffs do not pose any harm to human or animal health or to the environment.
European legislation and EFSA guidance documents detail how to compile dossiers for submission and the information and studies required for the evaluation.
The Commission has established the European Union Register of Feed Additives, which includes the list of all authorised feed additives.