What are animal feed additives and what are they used for?
Feed additives are substances, microorganisms or preparations other than feed material, which are intentionally added to feed or water. They fall into the following categories according to function:
- Technological additives: preservatives, stabilisers, antioxidants, binders, ...
- Sensory additives: flavouring compounds, colourants
- Nutritional additives: vitamins, pro-vitamins, amino acids and their salts, trace elements, urea and its derivatives
- Zootechnical additives: gut flora stabilisers, digestibility enhancers and substances which favourably affect the environment
- Coccidiostats and histomonostats
A feed additive may only be authorised if it fulfils the following criteria (Regulation (EC) No 1831/2003, Article 5). The feed additive shall not
- have an adverse effect on animal health, human health or the environment;
- be presented in a manner which may mislead the user;
- harm the consumer by impairing the distinctive features of animal products or mislead the consumer with regard to the distinctive features of animal products.
In addition, the additive must meet at least one of the following criteria:
- favourably affect the characteristics of feed;
- favourably affect the characteristics of animal products;
- favourably affect the colour of ornamental fish and birds;
- satisfy the nutritional needs of animals;
- favourably affect the environmental consequences of animal production;
- favourably affect animal production, performance or welfare, particularly by affecting the gastro-intestinal flora or digestibility of feeding stuffs, or
- have a coccidiostatic or histomonostatic effect.
Authorisation process for a feed additive:
Pursuant to Regulation (EC) No 1831/2003 (on additives for use in animal nutrition), a feed additive must be authorised in a Community procedure before it may be placed on the market and fed to animals. A feed additive is only authorised if it demonstrably has no adverse effect on animal health, human health or the environment and if it fulfils a certain purpose or function.
The applicant submits an application to the European Commission and the application is then forwarded to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). The EFSA issues an opinion within six months, on the basis of which the Animal Nutrition section of the Standing Committee (SCoPAFF) will authorise or reject the application.
Tasks and activities of the NRL concerning feed additives - applications for authorisation:
The Commission Regulation (EC) No 378/2005 regulates the duties and tasks of the Community Reference Laboratory concerning applications for authorisation of feed additives.
In the application for authorisation, the applicant must include, among other things, the description of a suitable method of analysis of the active substance in the feed additives, premixtures and original product, which will be subjected to a scientific evaluation by a reporting laboratory. The National Reference Laboratories are required to participate in preparing the evaluation report on the method, to assess the suitability of the method for use in official testing and to submit their opinion to the European Reference Laboratory (EURL) in Geel. Other tasks include reporting to and cooperation with the EURL and the NRLs of other EU-member states, as well as testing, developing and validating methods of analysis.
In Austria, the Institute for Animal Nutrition and Feedstuffs at the Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety (AGES) in Vienna has been designated to fulfil these tasks.