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EU states vote to ban formaldehyde in feed, US industry hits back

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EU member states have voted to ban the use of formaldehyde in pig and poultry feed despite warnings the move could make it harder to combat Salmonella.

After months of discussion, the bloc’s Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed (PAFF) backed the proposed ban by a qualified majority – with 26 countries in favour, one opposed and one abstaining.

The vote came just a day after the end of a public consultation which garnered almost 100 comments from a range of feed and poultry producers, representative bodies and private individuals.

The vast majority called for continued use of formaldehyde, with many citing the relatively poor performance of organic acids as a primary concern.

Feedback from US

In feedback dated December 19, the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA) pointed to the findings of a 2014 risk assessment from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

This suggested that feed authorisation could safely be granted so long as adequate control measures are implemented to limit the risks for workers.

“The approval of formaldehyde in the US takes these measures into account and we believe could be a model for authorization in the European Union,” the association noted.

US-based company, Anitox has long argued that formaldehyde should be permitted because of its ability to combat Salmonella. Responding to the vote, the firm noted that cases of Salmonella Enteritidis in the EU have increased in humans by 3% since 2014, adding that two in three of these cases are linked to consumption of eggs and poultrymeat.

“Contrary to its proffered position as guardian of health and safety, the Commission stands accused of putting unsubstantiated concerns about worker safety above the evidenced increased risk to consumers,” the company said in a release.

Next steps

While opposed to the formaldehyde ban, Anitox said it is now up to the industry to find other ways of delivering Salmonella-free feed and food – highlighting its own Finio technology as a potential alternative.

The company said many of Europe’s highest profile feed producers have already made the switch, having rejected organic acids as offering “little control and no residual protection, rendering feed vulnerable to recontamination between mill and feeder”.

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